July 22, 2014

Niels Lesniewski

Bio:

Niels Lesniewski covers the Senate for Roll Call. He joined what is now CQ Roll Call in September 2007, hired by Roll Call for the GalleryWatch legislative tracking service that was integrated into CQ in 2009. He is known for his expertise on the peculiarities of Senate procedure.

Niels began covering the Senate for CQ in January 2010, taking the title of CQ SenateWatch editor in the summer of 2011. He has contributed to coverage of all the biggest policy stories on Capitol Hill in recent years, including the response to the 2008 financial collapse, the health care overhaul and several budget standoffs.

A Connecticut native, Niels graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a dual degree in theatre and government. Before joining CQ Roll Call, he worked for theater productions in D.C. and New England. While in college, he interned for ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." Outside of work, Niels is an avid sports fan. He started attending Nationals games back when the team was among the worst in the National League and still playing at RFK Stadium.

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Stories by Niels Lesniewski:

Federal Judge Tosses Ron Johnson's Obamacare Lawsuit

July 21, 2014

A federal judge based in Green Bay has tossed a Sen. Ron Johnson’s Obamacare lawsuit targeting the health benefits for members of Congress and their staff.

Nomination Backlog Frustrates Administration, Democrats as August Looms

July 21, 2014

A pileup of nominations — particularly for scores of would-be U.S. ambassadors — has the Obama administration pushing hard for Senate action ahead of the August recess, while senators want to get home to campaign before the midterms.

Reid Predicts Congress Will Not Pass Bill to Fix VA

July 21, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday predicted Congress would fail to pass a fix for the veterans’ health crisis, blaming the GOP for penny-pinching.

“We had a big show here, not long ago, where we provided $35 billion to help veterans. We’ve spent trillions of dollars in two wars, unpaid-for by the way. That’s what President [George W.] Bush wanted, and that’s what he got. But now, when we’re being asked to spend a few dollars to take care of these people who have come back in need as our veterans … it looks to me like they’re going to come back with nothing."

Reid Hammers Republicans for Delay on Border Crisis Funding

July 21, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blasted Republicans on Monday while suggesting Congress may fail to pass the White House's emergency funding request to address the influx of child migrants at the Southern border.

“We need to get resources to our border patrol agents and others who are caring for these children in central America. We need judges to hear these kids’ cases and decide whether they need protection or need to be sent back home,” Reid said. “The world is watching how this great democracy of ours responds to this crisis.”

Reid Predicts Veterans' Health Bill Will Fall, Fears Gridlock on Border Supplemental (Video)

July 21, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Monday predicted Congress would fail to pass a fix for the veterans’ health crisis — and worried the same could happen with the border supplemental to address the child migrant crisis.

Mark Kirk Says Obama Iran Policy is Path to Nuclear War (Video)

July 18, 2014

Sen. Mark S. Kirk said in a jarring video circulated late Friday that President Barack Obama’s Iran policy is leading to nuclear war.

McCain: United States 'Also Responsible' for Circumstances Leading to MH17 Crash in Ukraine (Audio)

July 18, 2014

Sen. John McCain said Friday that the tragic shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 might never have happened if the United States had armed Ukrainian forces battling against Russian-backed separatists.

Reid Lambasts Delays in Confirming US Ambassadors

July 17, 2014

An international body that’s been responsible for investigating airplane crashes such as Malaysia Airlines MH17 is among the entities lacking a U.S. ambassador.

That’s as the crash of the Malaysia Airlines flight in Eastern Ukraine was reported to have had Americans on board and may require an independent investigation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has begun regular complaints about delays in confirming the backlog of State Department nominations.

“Right now, there are gaping holes in our nation’s front lines. American embassies all over the world are without their leaders," Reid said on the Senate floor Thursday. “Republicans are abdicating the Senate’s constitutional role to confirm ambassadors.”

Senate Set to Confirm Ambassador to Possible Malaysia Airlines MH17 Crash Investigator (Video) (Updated)

July 17, 2014

Updated 6:59 p.m. | The Senate is set to confirm a new U.S. ambassador to an international body that’s been responsible for investigating airplane crashes such as Malaysia Airlines MH17.

McCain: Putin Should Pay if Separatists Shot Down Malaysia Airlines Plane

July 17, 2014

If it's determined that Ukrainian separatists shot down the Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed in Eastern Ukraine Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin should face consequences, Sen. John McCain said.

The Arizona Republican said it's too early to know exactly what happened to the plane that reportedly crashed near the Russian border.

"It's an outrageous and incredible act of terrorism that people [should] be held responsible and not only be people directly responsible, but indirectly," McCain said when asked about reports the plane was shot down. "And if these are ... separatists, which are also Russian, Vladimir Putin should be paying a heavy price. But I am not concluding yet that until we find out all the information."

Putin Should Pay if Malaysia Airlines Jet Was Shot Down, McCain Says (Video)

July 17, 2014

If it’s determined that Ukrainian separatists shot down the Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed in Eastern Ukraine Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin should face consequences, Sen. John McCain said.

Democratic Leaders Plan to Bypass Wyden on Internet Sales Tax Combo Bill (Video)

July 16, 2014

Senate Democratic leaders plan to do an end run around Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden and combine House-passed legislation extending a moratorium on taxing Internet access with a Senate-passed proposal to require online retailers to collect sales tax.

Durbin Wants Defense Spending Bill on the Floor, but Isn't Optimistic

July 16, 2014

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin would not concede that the only way forward for fiscal 2015 appropriations is a continuing resolution, but he wasn’t very optimistic.

Senate Confirms Federal Judge 17 Years After Nomination

July 16, 2014

Roughly 17 years after first being nominated, Ronnie L. White is finally on his way to becoming a federal judge in Missouri.

The Senate confirmed White, 53-44, to a seat in the Eastern District of Missouri after limiting debate earlier in the day with 54 affirmative votes, short of the 60 that used to be required for cloture before Democrats used the "nuclear option" in 2013 to effectively change the rules.

White's nomination during the Clinton administration eventually fell on a party-line vote in 1999, 45-54. Republicans had the majority in the Senate at that time. Ahead of Wednesday's action, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., called the original vote "a grievous error."

Ronnie White Reaches Federal Bench — 17 Years Later (Video)

July 16, 2014

Roughly 17 years after first being nominated, Ronnie L. White is finally on his way to becoming a federal judge in Missouri.

Reid Doubts Unemployment Extension Will Come Up in Highway Bill Debate

July 16, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would work as quickly as possible to advance a highway funding patch, but an unemployment extension isn’t likely to get a chance to hitchhike on it.

Will Congress Take August Recess Before Relieving VA Health Crisis? (Video)

July 16, 2014

A few weeks ago, it would have been unthinkable that Congress would leave for August recess without sending a VA health care bill to President Barack Obama’s desk.

Democrats Want Jail Time for Corporate Executives Hiding Safety Risks

July 16, 2014

A group of Democratic senators wants corporate officers to risk jail time for concealing safety threats from the public and government regulators.

Reid Says Border Already Secure (Video)

July 15, 2014

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asserted bluntly Tuesday ”the border is secure.”

No Border Money Unless Obama Disavows Expanding DACA, Senator Says

July 15, 2014

Sen. Jeff Sessions is calling on his fellow lawmakers to reject any new spending to address the immigration crisis at the border until President Barack Obama disavows any plans to expand deportation relief known as DACA.

Harkin's HELP Committee Shows Off the Lost Art of Legislating

July 15, 2014

Ask Sen. Tom Harkin about his committee’s work this Congress and he’s ready to rattle off a key statistic.

Cornyn, Durbin Highlight Divide on Immigration Supplemental

July 10, 2014

If you want to see the Senate’s divide on a supplemental spending package to address the flood of unaccompanied migrant children crossing the border, look no further than the chamber’s two whips.

Justice Department Declines to Open Probe of CIA 'Spying' on Senate (Updated)

July 10, 2014

Updated 4:37 p.m. | The Justice Department is declining to open a formal investigation into the sparring between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA.

CBO Score Continues to Vex Veterans Bill Talks

July 9, 2014

The sky-high CBO score for a veterans’ health care overhaul continues to stall progress weeks after separate bills blitzed through the House and Senate.

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