Ailsa Chang

Ailsa Chang is a Congressional reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.

Since joining NPR in September 2012, Chang has covered the first major gun control legislation to reach Capitol Hill in two decades, recovery efforts after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy and a multitude of law enforcement issues, including reforms by the overstretched and underfunded police department in Camden, NJ.

Chang spent six years as a lawyer before becoming a journalist. Prior to coming to NPR, Chang was an investigative reporter at NPR member station WNYC from 2009 to 2012 in New York City where she covered criminal justice and other legal issues.

Chang has received numerous national awards for her investigative reporting. In 2012, she was honored with the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for her two-part investigative series on the New York City Police Department's "stop-and-frisk" policy and allegations of unlawful marijuana arrests by officers. The reports 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.

Chang graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University where she received her bachelor's degree. She earned a law degree with distinction from Stanford Law School and has two masters degrees, one in media law from Oxford University where she was a Fulbright Scholar and one in journalism from Columbia University.

She also served as a law clerk on the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in the chambers of Judge John T. Noonan, Jr.

Chang was a Kroc fellow at NPR from 2008 to 2009. She has also been 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
4:14 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Lawmakers Hear President Say He's Ready To Go It Alone

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 10:49 am

Members of the House and Senate sit and listen and often applaud the presidential State of the Union, but when it's done many members crowd the microphones in Statuary Hall to oppose the chief executive's vision.

It's All Politics
4:06 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Tea Partiers Hope To Crash Sen. Graham's Re-Election Bid

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., questions a witness during an April 23 hearing on the use of drones on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Cliff Owen AP

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 3:32 pm

This year marks the first time Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has had to run for office since the emergence of the Tea Party. Graham has never faced much Republican opposition during his two decades in Congress, but this June, he's already heading into a primary with four Republican challengers who say he's not conservative enough for the Palmetto State. Voters say the race has become a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party in South Carolina.

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Politics
9:35 am
Sat January 18, 2014

Congress Divided On NSA Role

Transcript

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

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Politics
3:21 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Senate Moves Forward On Unemployment Benefits

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 5:12 am

In a tally that surprised even its sponsors, a half dozen Republican senators gave Democrats enough votes to move forward with a bill extending emergency unemployment benefits for another three months. The proposal likely faces an even tougher hurdle in the Republican-controlled House.

Politics
2:43 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Congress Works To Flesh Out Budget Deal Before Jan. 15 Deadline

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 6:43 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. Congress returns to work next Monday and both chambers will have a little more than a week to pass an appropriations bill to keep the government open. A bipartisan budget agreement in December helped reduce the chance of a shutdown, but as NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, there's still plenty left to bicker about.

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It's All Politics
1:17 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Gun Control Lobby Takes Note Of Opposition's Success

Supporters for gun rights gather outside the National Shooting Sports Foundation headquarters in Newtown, Conn., on March 28.
Jessica Hill AP

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 8:13 pm

For gun control advocates hoping to see federal gun laws tighten after the shootings in Newtown, Conn., 2013 was a disheartening year. A narrow provision to expand background checks failed in the Senate.

For gun rights activists, the death of that legislation proved once more their single-issue intensity and decades-long grass-roots organizing were enough to prevail. Those are also valuable lessons for their opponents.

A 'Voice' For Lost Children

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Politics
2:56 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Defense Bill Addresses Sexual Assaults In The Military

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 10:08 am

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

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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Politics
2:43 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

After Key Vote, Senate Poised To Pass Congressional Budget Deal

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 10:31 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

On Capitol Hill today, a truce in the budget wars. A dozen Republican senators agreed to let a bipartisan budget deal proceed to a final vote. That was the bill's last obstacle. It's expected to easily garner the 51 votes it needs for passage.

But as NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, the deal still has many critics in the Senate on both sides of the aisle.

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Politics
2:46 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Sebelius Faced More Grilling From House, Despite HealthCare.gov Fixes

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 4:26 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

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Politics
4:06 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Will Obamacare Play Big In 2014? Keep An Eye On N.H. Senate Race

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., on Capitol Hill earlier this year.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 9:54 am

With a new White House push to promote the Affordable Care Act well underway, the question is whether an improved HealthCare.gov site and onslaught of positive talking points will be enough to bolster Senate Democrats facing tough races in 2014.

One re-election fight to watch is Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's in New Hampshire, where she's been taking heat for supporting the new health care law.

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Politics
3:01 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Senate Rules Change Could Mean More Political Rancor

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 5:21 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Is Washington headed for smoother operation or more dysfunction than ever? Democrats made big changes to the rules of the U.S. Senate yesterday. The changes kill the ability of the minority, the Republicans, to filibuster most presidential nominations.

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Politics
5:30 am
Sat November 16, 2013

With Democrats' Help, House Votes Against Obamacare

Originally published on Sat November 16, 2013 9:22 am

Transcript

DON GONYEA, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Scott Simon is away. I'm Don Gonyea. The Affordable Care Act dominated political headlines again this week. Yesterday, the House passed a Republican bill that would allow insurance companies to renew individual health insurance policies even if the coverage does not provide all the benefits required by the new health care law.

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Politics
3:56 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

House Approves 'Keep Your Health Plan' Bill

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 6:07 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

We begin this hour on Capitol Hill, where a vote in the House has capped a week of controversy over the Affordable Care Act. The president apologized. His party squirmed. And more than three dozen Democrats joined House Republicans today to pass a bill that would let insurers continue existing policies for a year. That's even if plans don't meet standards set by the health care law. NPR's Ailsa Chang reports.

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Politics
2:50 am
Fri November 15, 2013

House To Vote On GOP Solution To Canceled Insurance

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 8:49 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. The first part of October was a political disaster for the Republican Party. After being blamed for the government shutdown, the GOP approval rating fell to historic lows.

MONTAGNE: The weeks since have become a political disaster for Democrats. Problems with the Affordable Care Act have knocked President Obama's poll ratings as low as they've ever been.

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It's All Politics
1:17 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Congressional Odd Couple Could Be Key To Any Budget Breakthrough

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., prepare to meet reporters on Capitol Hill on Oct. 17, after a breakfast meeting when the leaders of the bipartisan budget conference say they pledged to seek "common ground."
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 3:11 am

Twenty-nine lawmakers are supposed to come up with a long-term budget deal by mid-December. They meet again Wednesday around a conference table, led by two people who couldn't be more different: Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

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It's All Politics
12:03 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

When Lobbyists Literally Write The Bill

Lobbyists for Citigroup, one of the country's largest banks, offered lawmakers draft language for a bill that was obtained by New York Times and Mother Jones reporters. And 70 of the 85 lines in the final House bill reflected Citigroup's recommendations.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 3:52 pm

It's taken for granted that lobbyists influence legislation. But perhaps less obvious is that they often write the actual bills — even word for word.

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Politics
3:01 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Senate Committee Grills Sebelius Over Health Law

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 4:21 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block in Washington, D.C.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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NPR Story
3:11 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Obama's Nominations Blocked Again In Senate

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 4:46 am

Senate Republicans have once again blocked President Obama's nominees. Despite a deal in July to let several of the president's picks go through, the rancor has returned with a fresh batch of appointments. Two nominations failed within less than an hour on Thursday, and Democrats may once again threaten to change Senate rules so Republicans can't easily derail another nomination.

Politics
3:07 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Sebelius: Hold Me Accountable For HealthCare.gov Debacle

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 4:00 pm

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified on the Affordable Care Act before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. She began with an apology for the plan's troubled rollout — but then defended the law and rejected calls to extend the enrollment deadline.

It's All Politics
2:49 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Health Site Glitches Have At-Risk Democrats Favoring Delay

Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska is one of five Democrats in the Senate calling for a delay in the enrollment deadline for the Affordable Care Act. He says consumers shouldn't be punished for the technical problems that have plagued the health law's website.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 5:57 pm

The messy rollout of the online exchanges under the Affordable Care Act has provided fodder for Republicans determined to make Obamacare an issue in the 2014 elections.

A handful of Democratic incumbents in battleground states are among senators now calling for an extension of the open enrollment period, which could be a way to curry favor in relatively conservative states.

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Politics
2:23 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Obamacare Contractors Head To Capitol Hill For House Hearing

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 4:25 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

On Capitol Hill, it was a day of tough questions and finger-pointing. Lawmakers got their first chance to grill government contractors over the botched rollout of the new government health insurance website. It was the first in a series of hearings. And as NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle directed their anger at the contractors and at each other.

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Politics
3:10 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Hearings On Obamacare Rollout Kick Off On Capitol Hill

Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 6:07 am

The first of what is likely to be many congressional hearings on the Affordable Care Act rollout happens Thursday. After more than three weeks, consumers trying out the new health care exchanges have complained of delays, inaccurate information and other computer problems. House Republicans are determined to shine a spotlight on the bungles.

Politics
2:38 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Defeat Isn't Easy For Conservative Republicans To Admit

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 8:23 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

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Politics
3:03 am
Tue October 15, 2013

House Waits For Details On Senate Bipartisan Proposal

With the debt ceiling deadline looming just two days away, Senate leaders say they're close to a deal that would reopen the government and avert default. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have been leading bipartisan talks on a way out of the deadlock. Even if a bipartisan agreement clears the Senate, it will likely be a hard sell to House Republicans.

Politics
2:51 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

More Negotiations, Still No Deal, On Shutdown, Debt Ceiling

Originally published on Mon October 14, 2013 4:19 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. Both the House and the Senate were in session today as the country closes in on the debt ceiling deadline. If Congress doesn't raise the debt limit before Thursday, the White House says the country will likely begin defaulting on its obligations. President Obama postponed a meeting with congressional leaders this afternoon.

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It's All Politics
3:41 am
Sun October 13, 2013

Senate Gets A Dose Of Scolding With Its Morning Prayer

Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black has been using his morning prayer to express his displeasure with political gridlock.
Drew Angerer AP

Originally published on Sun October 13, 2013 1:21 pm

It's easy to tune out when the Senate goes through its morning rituals. The president pro tem calls the chamber to order; there's the Pledge of Allegiance. One morning could sound like any other.

Except for the past two weeks. Barry C. Black, the Senate chaplain, has been using his morning prayers to say exactly what he thinks is wrong with Washington lawmakers: "Remove from them that stubborn pride, which imagines itself to be above and beyond criticism."

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Politics
2:02 am
Fri October 11, 2013

In History, House Speaker Has Never Been Removed At Midterm

Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 3:19 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

There's been a lot of speculation about whether John Boehner could lose his job as speaker of the House if he doesn't placate the Republican's vocal Tea Party faction. So far there's been no attempt to oust Boehner.

And as NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, it would actually be quite hard to kick him out of the job in the middle of a congressional term.

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Politics
2:44 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Some Republicans Say Debt Limit Fuss Is A Lot Of Hype

Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., says it's "absolutely not true" to suggest that the U.S. can't pay its debts without raising the debt ceiling.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 3:51 pm

For weeks, economists and bankers have been warning that there will be catastrophic consequences if Congress fails raise the nation's borrowing limit.

They say it will mean the nation will default on its debt, which could rock U.S. and global markets. The Treasury has warned that it will exhaust the "extraordinary measures" it has been using to keep paying the nation's bills by Oct. 17.

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Politics
4:40 am
Sat October 5, 2013

What Furlough? GOP Lawmakers Choose How Much Burden To Bear

A seagull walks on the edge of the reflecting pool near the Capitol on Friday.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Sat October 5, 2013 10:20 am

As the government shutdown enters its fifth day, House Republicans and Senate Democrats continue to spar over who's being more unreasonable in this fight.

GOP members now find themselves on the defensive, as they face questions about forgoing pay and forgoing staff during the widespread furloughs.

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Politics
3:03 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Government Stays Closed As Spending Standoff Drags On

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 9:38 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now we're going to sort through the various interpretations of what is or isn't going on to resolve the government shutdown with NPR's congressional reporter Ailsa Chang. Hi there, Ailsa.

AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: Hi there.

CORNISH: So we heard the congresswoman mention these various bills the House is pushing to fund different popular departments of the government. But at the same time, Senate Democrats are saying no to a partial government reopening. So how are they justifying that position?

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