Ailsa Chang

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who covers Congress for NPR. She landed in public radio after spending six years as a lawyer.

Since joining NPR in 2012, Chang has covered battles over immigration, the healthcare law, gun control and White House appointments. She crisscrossed the country in the months before the Republican takeover of the Senate, bringing stories about Washington from the Deep South, Southwest and New England.

Chang started out as a radio reporter in 2009, and has since earned a string of national awards for her work. In 2012, she was honored with the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for her investigation on the New York City Police Department's "stop-and-frisk" policy and allegations of unlawful marijuana arrests by officers. The series also earned honors from Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Society of Professional Journalists.

She was also the recipient of the Daniel Schorr Journalism Award, a National Headliner Award, and an honor from Investigative Reporters and Editors for her investigation on how Detroit's broken public defender system leaves lawyers with insufficient resources to effectively represent their clients.

In 2011, the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association named Chang as the winner of the Art Athens Award for General Excellence in Individual Reporting for radio.

The former lawyer served as a law clerk to Judge John T. Noonan, Jr. on the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco.

Chang graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University where she received her bachelor's degree.

She earned her law degree with distinction from Stanford Law School, where she won the Irving Hellman, Jr. Special Award for the best piece written by a student in the Stanford Law Review in 2001.

Chang was also a Fulbright Scholar at Oxford University, where she received a master's degree in media law. And she has a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Prior to coming to NPR, Chang was an investigative reporter at NPR member station WNYC from 2009 to 2012 in New York City, focusing on criminal justice and legal affairs. She was a Kroc fellow at NPR from 2008 to 2009, as well as a reporter and producer for NPR member station KQED in San Francisco.

Chang grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Politics
4:01 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Republican Leaders Vow New Congress Will Get Things Done

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 6:57 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Politics
3:38 pm
Thu January 1, 2015

2014 Yielded Bumper Crop Of Judicial Confirmations

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, shown walking towards the Senate chamber on December 16, pushed through a final batch of judicial nominees this month, before the Republican-dominated Senate takes over in the new year.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 9:34 pm

Since he's taken office, President Obama has seen more than 300 federal judges confirmed, putting him ahead of the past two presidents at their six-year marks. A huge chunk of those confirmations happened in 2014 — the year after the Senate Democrats got rid of the filibuster for most judicial nominations.

To assess how that rules change might have helped things along, consider a few numbers.

In 2014, 89 judges were confirmed; that's the highest yearly total in two decades, a it's almost one-third of all of Obama's confirmations since he first took office six years ago.

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Politics
4:02 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Senate Democrats Use Waning Majority To Push Through Judges

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 1:46 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Politics
4:15 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Siding With Obama On Deportations Hurts Saldana's Bipartisan Support

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 6:31 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Politics
7:12 am
Sat December 13, 2014

Outrage On The Left And Right As Senate Delays Spending Vote

Originally published on Sat December 13, 2014 1:21 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Politics
3:35 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Congress Runs Up Against Deadline To Pass A Budget

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 5:39 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Politics
3:54 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Senate May Need Every Minute To Meet Government Funding Deadline

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 5:23 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Politics
3:26 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Congress Pushes Up Against Deadline To Keep Government Funded

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 5:47 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Politics
3:57 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Their Senate, Their Rules: GOP May Allow Blocking Of Nominees Again

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leaves a closed-door policy meeting at the Capitol on Dec. 2. McConnell says he wants to make the Senate work the way it used to, but not all Republicans are on board.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 12:28 pm

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says one of his top priorities will be to make the Senate work the way it used to — which would include the use of filibusters to block presidential appointments. But would that improve the way the Senate works? Republicans will be debating that question behind closed doors Tuesday. Many were furious when Democrats eliminated the filibuster for nearly all confirmation votes last year — a change some called the "nuclear option." But now that the GOP will be in the majority, they're not all that eager to go back.

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Politics
3:18 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

GOP Hopes To Use Spending Bill As Leverage Against Immigration Action

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 6:14 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Politics
4:29 am
Wed November 19, 2014

1 Vote Keeps Keystone XL Pipeline From Senate Passage

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 6:33 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Here's a fight in Congress that either means nothing or means a lot. The Senate voted down a bill to force construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Politics
4:21 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Sen. Landrieu Takes Up Keystone Cause Ahead Of Runoff Election

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 8:31 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Politics
4:46 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Mitch McConnell's Mission: Making The Senate Work Again

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky walks to his office to meet with new GOP senators-elect at the Capitol on Wednesday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

At 72, after 30 years in the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell has finally realized his life's ambition.

He never wanted to be president — he just wanted to be Senate majority leader. And when he ascends to that perch come January, McConnell will finally have a chance to shape the chamber he says he deeply loves. McConnell declared his first priority will be to make what's been called a paralyzed Senate function again. But the politician who became the face of obstruction over the past four years will have to persuade Democrats to cooperate.

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Politics
4:09 am
Thu November 6, 2014

McConnell Faces Challenges From GOP Conservatives, Obama's Veto Pen

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 4:44 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A bit more than a year ago, President Obama was being criticized once again for his cool relations with Congress. And at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, he joked about it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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Politics
4:00 am
Wed November 5, 2014

After 8 Years, Republicans Win Control Of U.S. Senate

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 10:58 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

There is very little upside for Democrats in yesterday's election results. Think about these names...

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Wendy Davis was a rising Democratic star who lost the Texas governor's race.

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