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
6:45 am
Fri March 27, 2015

Senators Endure Vote-A-Rama With Coping Mechanisms

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 2:23 pm

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

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Politics
5:07 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

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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Politics
5:28 am
Thu March 12, 2015

Congressional Approval For Military Fight Against ISIS Faces Uphill Battle

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 7:37 am

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

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Politics
6:25 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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Politics
5:11 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 11:26 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
4:22 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 4:23 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
10:56 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 11:41 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
6:09 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 3:57 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
7:50 am
Sat January 10, 2015

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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Politics
5:01 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Republican Leaders Vow New Congress Will Get Things Done

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 7:57 am

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

Politics
5:15 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Siding With Obama On Deportations Hurts Saldana's Bipartisan Support

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 7:31 am

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

Politics
5:29 am
Wed November 19, 2014

1 Vote Keeps Keystone XL Pipeline From Senate Passage

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 7:33 pm

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

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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.

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Politics
5:44 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 5:46 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
5:09 am
Thu November 6, 2014

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

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 5:44 pm

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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
5:00 am
Wed November 5, 2014

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

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

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

There is very little upside for Democrats in yesterday's election results. Think about these names...

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Wendy Davis was a rising Democratic star who lost the Texas governor's race.

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Politics
5:04 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 1:49 pm

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
4:36 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 2:06 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
4:33 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 3:05 pm

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Politics
4:26 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Health Officials Face Ebola Questions On Capitol Hill

Originally published on Thu October 16, 2014 6:35 pm

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

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Politics
5:01 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 2:18 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
4:12 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 10:46 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
5:30 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Senate To Vote On Bill To Authorize Arming Syrian Rebels

Originally published on Thu September 18, 2014 7:50 am

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

Politics
5:17 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

Pryor Sticks To The Middle In Close Arkansas Senate Race

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

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

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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Politics
4:10 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Senate Control May Swing On North Carolina's Unpopularity Contest

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

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

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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Politics
4:53 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

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/.

Politics
5:04 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Administration Officials Defend Funding Request To Stem Border Crisis

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 8:01 am

President Obama has asked for $3.7 billion to deal with the southern border crisis. There are predictions the number of unaccompanied children entering the U.S. could reach 90,000 by October.

Politics
3:23 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Could A Socialist Senator Become A National Brand?

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont speaks during a committee hearing on veterans' health care. Sanders, an Independent, is a possible 2016 presidential candidate.
Cliff Owen AP

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 11:30 am

As members of Congress continue hammering out a bill to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs' beleaguered health care system, attention has focused on one man leading the charge: Bernie Sanders, Independent senator from Vermont and a self-described socialist.

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Politics
6:22 am
Fri June 20, 2014

GOP: McCarthy Voted Majority Leader; Scalise Chosen As Whip

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 7:29 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

House Republicans have elected a new majority leader. As expected, Kevin McCarthy of California, currently the third-ranked Republican in the House, easily prevailed. And Steve Scalise of Louisiana won the fight to replace McCarthy as majority whip. The leadership shuffle followed last week's unexpected primary defeat of the previous majority leader, Eric Cantor. NPR's Ailsa Chang takes a look at the frenzied, 10-day contest to fill the newly vacated positions.

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Politics
5:16 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Senators Reach Deal To Pay For Veterans' Care Outside VA System

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 11:09 am

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Politics
5:05 am
Thu May 22, 2014

House Panel Wants More Done To Undermine Boko Haram

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 9:39 am

The House Foreign Affairs Committee got a briefing on the threat from Boko Haram, a terrorist group that has kidnapped and is holding hundreds of Nigerian girls captive.

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