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
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/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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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/.

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
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

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
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

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
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 November 3, 2014 1:34 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/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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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

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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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.

Politics
2:41 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Election-Year Politics Dooms Energy Bill, Averts Pipeline Vote

Pipefitters work on construction of the Keystone XL pipeline's southern portion outside Tulsa, Okla., in January.
PR Newswire

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 12:23 pm

As expected, an energy efficiency bill failed in the Senate on Monday, which makes a separate Senate vote on the Keystone XL oil pipeline unlikely before the November election.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had made a Keystone vote contingent upon passage of the energy efficiency bill, and letting one doom the other may have temporarily gotten him out of a bind.

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Politics
5:15 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Women On Capitol Hill Reach Across Party Lines To Get Things Done

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., started what she calls power workshops for women in the Senate years ago.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 4:51 pm

There's a long-held assumption that women are more likely than men to collaborate. As the number of women in Congress has increased, however, so has the partisanship and gridlock. So does a woman's touch actually help on Capitol Hill?

There's a lot of academic research that supports the idea that women are better at building bipartisan coalitions. Studies have found that women in Congress not only sponsor more bills but also collect more co-sponsors for those bills.

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Politics
5:12 am
Thu May 1, 2014

Senate Republicans Block Bill To Raise Federal Minimum Wage

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 7:35 am

One of the Democrats top election themes this year was stopped cold in the Senate on Wednesday. Republicans successfully blocked Democrats from even taking up a bill to raise the minimum wage.

Politics
4:08 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Hey, Superheroes On The National Mall: Any Advice For Congress?

People arrive on the National Mall Friday dressed as comic book characters during the kickoff of Awesome Con 2014 in Washington, D.C.
Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 7:13 pm

Hundreds of people gathered on the National Mall Friday to see if they could break the Guinness World Record for the largest group dressed as comic book characters ever assembled.

It was the kickoff to Awesome Con 2014, a comic book convention that will take place in Washington, D.C., this weekend. In the end, the group came up short by several hundred people to break the world record.

But with so much superhero power concentrated next to the U.S. Capitol, NPR had to ask: Did the caped figures have any advice for Congress?

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Politics
5:28 am
Mon April 14, 2014

As Election Nears, Congress Is Expected To Be Less Productive

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 7:33 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Let's look at the calendar now. We are seven months away from the midterm elections. Members of the House of Representatives and a good number of senators have turned much of their focus to campaigning. There are still votes happening in Congress, but often of a different kind. This year, we've seen a flurry of show votes: votes on bills with no realistic hope of passing, but are done to make political points. As NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, both parties have been in on it.

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Politics
3:30 am
Wed March 26, 2014

How To Meet Your Congressman

The Capitol Dome is visible through the skylights of the new Capitol Visitor Center.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 3:21 pm

For all the campaigning and schmoozing members of Congress have to do, the truth is that the vast majority of Americans will never actually meet their lawmakers.

To be fair, not everyone wants to. But among those who do, there's serious competition for a lawmaker's time. So, how does an average citizen get access on Capitol Hill? The quick answer: It's not easy.

First, do the math. When it comes to face time with a member of Congress, there are 535 of them, and 314 million of you.

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Economy
5:03 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Senators Agree To Compromise Extending Jobless Benefits

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 11:27 am

Negotiators in the Senate reached a bi-partisan deal to extend unemployment benefits for 5 months, retroactive to the end of last year. A full Senate vote isn't expected until later this month.

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