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
6:30 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 Tue February 24, 2015 11:45 pm

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 — 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
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
3:46 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 4:55 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 — how does he placate Cruz and his allies while avoiding a shutdown of the agency?

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Politics
4:09 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 1:57 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
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/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Politics
3:01 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Republican Leaders Vow New Congress Will Get Things Done

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

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

Politics
2:24 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 8:34 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
2:48 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Senate Democrats Use Waning Majority To Push Through Judges

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 12:46 pm

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

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Politics
3:15 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Siding With Obama On Deportations Hurts Saldana's Bipartisan Support

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 5:31 am

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

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/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Politics
2:35 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Congress Runs Up Against Deadline To Pass A Budget

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 4:39 pm

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

Politics
2:54 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Senate May Need Every Minute To Meet Government Funding Deadline

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 4:23 am

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

Politics
2:26 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Congress Pushes Up Against Deadline To Keep Government Funded

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 4:47 pm

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

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
3:07 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

GOP Hopes To Use Spending Bill As Leverage Against Immigration Action

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 5:14 pm

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

Politics
3:22 am
Wed November 19, 2014

1 Vote Keeps Keystone XL Pipeline From Senate Passage

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 5:33 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
3:05 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Sen. Landrieu Takes Up Keystone Cause Ahead Of Runoff Election

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 7:31 pm

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

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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Politics
3:09 am
Thu November 6, 2014

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

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 3:44 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
3:00 am
Wed November 5, 2014

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

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 9:58 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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Politics
3:04 am
Mon November 3, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 11:49 am

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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Politics
2:36 am
Mon October 27, 2014

After Sunday Service, Georgia Churches Get Souls To The Polls

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

Originally published on Mon October 27, 2014 12:06 pm

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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Politics
2:33 am
Wed October 22, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 1:05 pm

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Politics
2:26 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Health Officials Face Ebola Questions On Capitol Hill

Originally published on Thu October 16, 2014 4:35 pm

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Politics
3:01 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Female Vets Say They'll Put Country First, Even On Capitol Hill

Wendy Rogers was one of the Air Force's first 100 female pilots. Now she's part of the biggest class of female veterans running for Congress.
Courtesy Wendy Rogers Campaign

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 12:18 pm

As the war against the so-called Islamic State continues in the Middle East, political ads have for weeks been raising the specter of terrorism. And several congressional candidates with military experience say they're the ones who can best keep America safe. Many of them are women. Only five female veterans have ever served in Congress, but 11 are running for seats this year – the most ever.

Just a few are running in competitive races, and Republican Wendy Rogers is one of them. Even if she never told you she spent 20 years in the military, you'd have a feeling.

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Politics
2:07 am
Mon September 29, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Tue September 30, 2014 8:46 pm

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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Politics
2:12 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

National Security May Not Resonate At The Polls This Fall

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 3:51 pm

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

Politics
2:15 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Congress Quietly Extends The Budget — Past Election Day, Anyway

Originally published on Fri September 19, 2014 5:57 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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Politics
3:30 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Senate To Vote On Bill To Authorize Arming Syrian Rebels

Originally published on Thu September 18, 2014 5:50 am

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

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