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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It's All Politics
2:24 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 — 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 5:58 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 — or, at least parts of it — through reconciliation, but they're not likely to win that game.

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It's All Politics
2:25 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 — the nominee to become the next attorney general — until the Senate passes its human trafficking bill.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 6:01 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 — 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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Politics
3:04 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

Tom Cotton: The Freshman Senator Behind The Iran Letter

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 6:00 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
4:25 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

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

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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It's All Politics
2:22 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 — but many of them will still have to show up to work.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 2:23 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 — 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
8:56 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 9:41 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
5:50 am
Sat January 10, 2015

Keystone Supporters Hope Amendments Will Soften Pipeline Opposition

Originally published on Sat January 10, 2015 9:31 am

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

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Politics
6:12 am
Sat December 13, 2014

Outrage On The Left And Right As Senate Delays Spending Vote

Originally published on Sat December 13, 2014 12:21 pm

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

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Politics
2:57 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 11:28 am

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
3:44 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

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 3:46 pm

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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