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
5:53 am
Fri March 27, 2015

Senators Endure Vote-A-Rama With Coping Mechanisms

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 1:23 pm

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

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It's All Politics
2:42 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Budget Reconciliation Explained Through Chutes And Ladders

Think of reconciliation as the biggest ladder in the game Chutes and Ladders β€” a procedural shortcut. But a presidential veto of whatever gets passed through reconciliation means tumbling back down a chute.
Ben Husmann Flickr

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 6:58 pm

There's a word you're going to be hearing a lot as Congress tries to pass a budget this year: reconciliation. It's a procedural fast-track lawmakers get to use after they approve a budget. Republicans are hoping to repeal the Affordable Care Act β€” or, at least parts of it β€” through reconciliation, but they're not likely to win that game.

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It's All Politics
3:37 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Missed Abortion Language Tangles Senate's Trafficking Bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he won't let the chamber vote on Loretta Lynch β€” the nominee to become the next attorney general β€” until the Senate passes its human trafficking bill.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 7:01 pm

A once widely supported Senate bill that would create a fund for human trafficking victims has hit a snag over language Democrats say they didn't know was in the bill β€” a provision that would bar funds collected under the measure from being used to pay for abortions. And the impasse over that language now threatens to delay other Senate business, like confirming a new attorney general.

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It's All Politics
5:28 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

Who Is Tom Cotton, The Man Behind The Iran Letter?

Tom Cotton, R-Ark., the freshman senator and Harvard graduate senator with a record of tough talk on foreign policy.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 12:33 am

The man behind a letter 47 Senate Republicans addressed to Iranian leaders this week is a freshman senator who's been in the chamber just over two months. Tom Cotton was the unusual GOP candidate last fall who thrilled both the Tea Party base and the Republican establishment.

And now, the young Iraq War vet is a rapidly rising star among his new colleagues.

All week – even against a crescendo of backlash about the letter – there were still plenty of Senate Republicans gushing about the youngest member of their chamber.

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Politics
4:36 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

Tom Cotton: The Freshman Senator Behind The Iran Letter

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 7:00 pm

Freshman Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who has been in office barely two months, penned an open letter to Iranian leaders this week that 47 Republican senators signed. NPR profiles the Harvard-trained lawyer and Iraq War veteran.

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

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Politics
4:28 am
Thu March 12, 2015

Congressional Approval For Military Fight Against ISIS Faces Uphill Battle

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 6:37 am

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

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Politics
4:20 am
Tue March 10, 2015

GOP Senators Remind Iran That Nuclear Deal Needs Their Backing

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 6:45 am

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

Politics
4:58 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

House Passes No-Strings-Attached Bill To Fund Homeland Security

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 5:25 pm

An effort by some congressional Republicans to block President Obama's executive actions on immigration by tying it to a Homeland Security spending bill officially failed on Tuesday. House Speaker John Boehner yet again bucked the most conservative wing of his party and brought a "clean" funding bill to the floor. It passed easily, thanks to unanimous backing by Democrats.

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Politics
4:11 am
Fri February 27, 2015

House Not Quite Ready To 'Suck It Up' Over Homeland Security Funding

"It is a waste of time. We will not allow a conference to take place. It won't happen," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday about the possibility of the two chambers reconciling Department of Homeland Security funding bills.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 10:26 am

The Department of Homeland Security runs out of money at midnight Friday. The Senate is on track to pass a bill to fully fund DHS with no strings attached. Meanwhile, the House will be voting Friday on a stopgap spending bill to fund the department for only three weeks. House Republicans say it's to give the two chambers more time to work out differences. But Senate Democrats say that's not going to happen.

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It's All Politics
6:52 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Tables Have Turned As Senate Barrels Toward Homeland Security Deadline

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has offered Democrats a Department of Homeland Security funding bill without provisions, but Democrats still want a commitment from House Speaker John Boehner.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 12:45 am

The Senate is speeding ahead into the first real deadline it's had since the beginning of the new Congress. In many ways, nothing has changed from past deadlines β€” lawmakers don't seem interested in resolving the matter with time to spare, rhetoric is hot and angry, and as always, one side is accusing the other of filibustering. Except this time it's the Republicans howling at the Democrats for being the obstructionists.

The script remains the same. The two sides have merely switched parts.

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It's All Politics
3:22 am
Mon February 23, 2015

For TSA Officers, Congress' Inaction On Funding Could Hit Home

If Congress doesn't act to fund the Department of Homeland Security by Friday, then over 200,000 TSA employees won't be receiving paychecks β€” but many of them will still have to show up to work.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 3:23 pm

Congress has until the end of Friday to figure out a way to fund the Department of Homeland Security. Otherwise, the department shuts down. But a "shutdown" doesn't mean workers go home. Instead, the vast majority of transportation security officers will have to keep showing up for work β€” but they won't be seeing paychecks until lawmakers find a way out.

For transportation security officers, it's a bad memory replaying way too soon.

A Case Of Deja Vu

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It's All Politics
9:56 am
Sun February 8, 2015

McConnell's Call For 'Regular Order' May Not Mean What It Used To

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky returns to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 29, 2015.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Sun February 8, 2015 10:41 am

"Regular order" is a phrase you'd normally hear only from Congress nerds, but it's increasingly common in conversations about the Senate this year.

When Mitch McConnell became Senate majority leader, he promised he'd restore what he called regular order in that chamber. But Democrats have been accusing him of violating regular order ever since.

When you listen to senators talk about regular order, it sounds like this fabulous, amazing thing. For Republican John McCain of Arizona, regular order is about getting stuff done.

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Politics
4:48 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Has A Ted Cruz Problem

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He is insisting the Department of Homeland Security not get any money unless Republicans get to undo the president's immigration policies.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 5:55 pm

A bill funding the Department of Homeland Security failed in the Senate Tuesday because it would block the president's executive action on deportations. The question now is, what will Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell try next?

The department runs out of money on Feb. 27. Texas senator and potential presidential candidate Ted Cruz insists DHS not get any money unless Republicans get to undo the president's immigration policies. That places McConnell in a dilemma β€” how does he placate Cruz and his allies while avoiding a shutdown of the agency?

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Politics
5:09 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Grassley Leads Senate Judiciary Panel As Loretta Lynch Hearings Begin

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks during the Freedom Summit on Jan. 24, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 2:57 pm

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa takes the reins Wednesday at the first major confirmation hearing of the new Congress. Loretta Lynch, the federal prosecutor who's nominated to become attorney general, is in for an hours-long grilling before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. And taking the stage with her will be Grassley – who is the first non-lawyer ever to chair the committee.

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Politics
6:50 am
Sat January 10, 2015

Keystone Supporters Hope Amendments Will Soften Pipeline Opposition

Originally published on Sat January 10, 2015 10:31 am

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

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