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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5:32pm

Tue July 14, 2015
Politics

Congress To Begin 60-Day Review Period Of Iran Nuclear Deal

Originally published on Tue July 14, 2015 7:19 pm

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

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4:28pm

Fri July 3, 2015
It's All Politics

A Conservative Firebrand From The Start, Ted Cruz Always Had A Plan

Originally published on Thu July 9, 2015 10:23 am

Cruz in his high school yearbook; he was president of the drama club.
Second Baptist High School

This story is part of NPR's series Journey Home. We're going to the places presidential candidates call home and finding out what those places tell us about how they see the world.

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12:25pm

Tue June 23, 2015
It's All Politics

Republicans Don't Have A Plan Yet To Replace Obamacare Subsidies

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 6:03 pm

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on March 4. The Supreme Court is considering the case of King v. Burwell, which could determine the fate of health care subsidies for millions of people.
Alex Wong Getty Images

As the Supreme Court edges closer to issuing an opinion that could deal a blow to the federal health exchange operating in more than 30 states, Democrats have sounded a warning to their colleagues on the other side: Be careful what you wish for.

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4:23pm

Fri May 29, 2015
Politics

Presidential Hopeful Bernie Sanders To Face Test In New Hampshire

Originally published on Fri May 29, 2015 6:20 pm

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

8:16am

Thu May 14, 2015
It's All Politics

A Trade Deal Read In Secret By Only A Few (Or Maybe None)

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 2:16 pm

To study the draft Trans-Pacific Partnership language, senators have to go to the basement of the Capitol and enter a secured, soundproof room and surrender their mobile devices.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

This post was updated at 1 p.m. ET

Senate leaders were all smiles Wednesday after they broke a 24-hour impasse and announced they had reached a deal on how to move forward on a fast-track trade negotiating bill. That legislation would give the president expedited authority to enter into a trade agreement with Pacific Rim countries, otherwise known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

But how senators will vote on this bill depends largely on how they feel about TPP. And there's one problem.

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4:30pm

Tue May 12, 2015
Politics

Senators Deny Obama Authority To Expedite Pacific Trade Deal

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 7:22 pm

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

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5:04am

Fri May 8, 2015
It's All Politics

What Eye Contact — And Dogs — Can Teach Us About Civility In Politics

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 11:09 am

State Sens. Warren Limmer (left) and Bill Ingebrigtsen talk in the Senate chamber. Limmer said he has been scolded for looking at his colleagues during debate before, and had "to beg forgiveness to the Senate president."
David J. Oakes Minnesota State Senate

Republican Warren Limmer sits in the second row of the Minnesota state Senate. He says more than 80 percent of his colleagues sit behind him. But he doesn't dare turn around to look at them when he gets up to speak.

He might get scolded. It has happened before.

"Then my cadence is thrown off," Limmer said. "I have to beg forgiveness to the Senate president. And then I'll get a slight admonishment, and then I can proceed."

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4:17pm

Sat May 2, 2015
It's All Politics

Full Senate Debates May Reveal Recent Bipartisanship As An Illusion

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 2:02 am

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., center, and the committee's ranking member Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., right, were all smiles April 14 after the committee passed an agreement on oversight of Iran negotiations. But the bill has run into some outspoken opponents in the full Senate.
Andrew Harnik AP

Just a few weeks ago we heard a lot about a delicate compromise that would allow Congress to review any deal emerging from nuclear talks with Iran. It came from a bipartisan negotiation in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — to wide acclaim.

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4:42pm

Tue April 21, 2015
Politics

In Latest Outbreak Of Bipartisanship, Senate Compromises On Trafficking Bill

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 9:53 pm

Sen. Mitch McConnell (right) walks with Sen. John Barrasso to a news conference about the compromise Tuesday.
Evan Vucci AP

A logjam over an anti-human trafficking bill has finally broken in the Senate. Senate negotiators reached a deal after a long impasse over language on abortion funding. The compromise clears the path to a confirmation vote for attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch — a vote Republicans had delayed until after the trafficking bill gets resolved.

It took about six weeks, but the Senate deal on human trafficking was the latest outbreak of bipartisanship in a month that's seen compromises on Iran, Medicare and education.

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3:42pm

Fri March 20, 2015
It's All Politics

Budget Reconciliation Explained Through Chutes And Ladders

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 7:58 pm

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

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 — or, at least parts of it — through reconciliation, but they're not likely to win that game.

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4:37pm

Mon March 16, 2015
It's All Politics

Missed Abortion Language Tangles Senate's Trafficking Bill

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 8:01 pm

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

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 — 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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5:19pm

Fri March 13, 2015
Politics

Tom Cotton: The Freshman Senator Behind The Iran Letter

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 8:00 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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5:47pm

Tue March 3, 2015
Politics

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

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 6:25 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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4:22am

Mon February 23, 2015
It's All Politics

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

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 4:23 pm

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 — but many of them will still have to show up to work.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

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 — 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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10:56am

Sun February 8, 2015
It's All Politics

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

Originally published on Sun February 8, 2015 11:41 am

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

"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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7:50am

Sat January 10, 2015
Politics

Keystone Supporters Hope Amendments Will Soften Pipeline Opposition

Originally published on Sat January 10, 2015 11:31 am

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

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8:12am

Sat December 13, 2014
Politics

Outrage On The Left And Right As Senate Delays Spending Vote

Originally published on Sat December 13, 2014 2:21 pm

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

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4:57am

Mon December 8, 2014
Politics

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

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 1:28 pm

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

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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5:44pm

Wed November 12, 2014
Politics

Mitch McConnell's Mission: Making The Senate Work Again

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 5:46 pm

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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5:00am

Wed November 5, 2014
Politics

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

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 11:58 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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5:04am

Mon November 3, 2014
Politics

Sen. Mitch McConnell Has More Than Most Riding On Midterm Elections

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 1:49 pm

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky waves while riding with his wife Elaine Chao in the Hopkins County Veterans Day Parade on Sunday in Madisonville. McConnell remains locked in a close race with Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Win McNamee Getty Images

If Republicans take over the Senate, the man expected to become the next majority leader is Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The title would be the culmination of a political career spanning more than three decades.

But first, McConnell has to win a sixth Senate term in a state where his popularity's been sagging.

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4:36am

Mon October 27, 2014
Politics

After Sunday Service, Georgia Churches Get Souls To The Polls

Originally published on Mon October 27, 2014 2:06 pm

Martha Frazier rides a bus to vote in Miami in 2012. This year, Georgia churches are running similar "Souls to the Polls" programs, busing worshipers to early voting locations after Sunday service.
J Pat Carter AP

At The Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church in Atlanta, about 700 congregants jam the pews every Sunday morning at 10:30. The church is near the edge of DeKalb County, and it's helping lead a "Souls to the Polls" drive.

Georgia Democrat Michelle Nunn is running an extremely tight race for Senate against Republican David Perdue, and the difference between victory and defeat could ride on the African-American vote. The push is on to get voters to turn out early — especially at black churches.

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4:33am

Wed October 22, 2014
Politics

The 2014 Campaign Ads That You Just Can't Stop Replaying

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 3:05 pm

In this campaign ad, GOP candidate Terri Lynn Land sips coffee after asking the viewer to "think about" accusations that she's waging a war on women.
Terry Land YouTube

3:34am

Mon September 29, 2014
Politics

In N.H. Race, A Rematch Of A Rematch

Originally published on Tue September 30, 2014 10:46 pm

Then-incumbent Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., and then-Democratic challenger Carol Shea-Porter debate during a Sept. 2012 forum at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Guinta, who lost to Shea-Porter in 2012, is running for his old seat in 2014.
David Lane AP

Think of it as a rematch of a rematch.

In New Hampshire, Democratic Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter is battling Republican Frank Guinta for the third time in a row. Each has beaten the other before – Guinta defeated Shea-Porter during the 2010 Tea Party wave, and Shea-Porter won her seat back in 2012.

You wonder if it starts to get boring when you're hitting the same rival over and over again.

"Well, I know what he's going to say, that's for sure," says Shea-Porter.
Guinta admits the same: "I mean, it is kind of old hat."

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4:15am

Fri September 19, 2014
Politics

Congress Quietly Extends The Budget — Past Election Day, Anyway

Originally published on Fri September 19, 2014 7:57 am

This week on Capitol Hill, a proposal to aid Syrian rebels got all the drama, while the larger government funding bill it was attached to barely got mention. But that spending package is quite similar to the one that led to the government shutdown in October — most notably, it still funds the Affordable Care Act. Yet this year, talk of a government shutdown was virtually nonexistent.

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3:34am

Fri September 12, 2014
Politics

Expanding ISIS Fight Scrambles GOP Plan To Extend Budget And Get Out

Originally published on Fri September 12, 2014 1:03 pm

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, leaves after a news conference Thursday on Capitol Hill in Washington. Boehner responded positively to the proposals from President Obama about confronting Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

House Republicans were hoping for September to be a blissfully uneventful month, with election season just around the corner. But President Obama dashed those hopes this week, when he asked Congress for authorization to train and arm Syrian rebels against the group calling itself the Islamic State.

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5:17pm

Mon September 8, 2014
Politics

Pryor Sticks To The Middle In Close Arkansas Senate Race

Originally published on Mon September 8, 2014 7:04 pm

Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor is fighting for his seat in a state that's grown more Republican. He's campaigning hard at events like this University of Arkansas Razorbacks game.
Ailsa Chang NPR

Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor is running one of the closest Senate races in the country. The fight, which could determine which party will control the Senate next year, may be on its way to becoming the most expensive race in the state's history.

Since President Obama won in 2008, Arkansas has grown more Republican, but Pryor is still hoping to win a third term on his reputation as a down-the-middle guy.

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4:10pm

Thu August 21, 2014
Politics

Senate Control May Swing On North Carolina's Unpopularity Contest

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 12:06 pm

Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., takes questions from the media in April during an appearance in Durham. Hagan has tried for her first 5 1/2 years in the U.S. Senate to convince North Carolina voters that being in the middle of the road is a good thing.
Gerry Broome AP

North Carolina is one of the half-dozen states that could cost the Democrats their majority in the Senate this November, and both contenders in the race are hoping to capitalize on a backlash.

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4:53pm

Tue July 22, 2014
Politics

VA Nominee Steps Before Senate Committee

Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 8:17 pm

Robert McDonald, President Obama's nominee to run the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs, is appearing before the Senate for his confirmation hearing. He faces the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, which will vote on whether to send his nomination to the Senate floor.

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

4:58pm

Tue July 15, 2014
Politics

House GOP Counters Obama's Request By Promising Own Proposal

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 7:23 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. It's a familiar dance in Washington - President Obama makes a request to Congress and the House says no. This time, the no is in response to the $3.7 billion dollars the president requested to respond to an influx of unaccompanied immigrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border.

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