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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5:11am

Fri February 27, 2015
Politics

House Not Quite Ready To 'Suck It Up' Over Homeland Security Funding

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 11:26 am

"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

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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8:30pm

Tue February 24, 2015
It's All Politics

Tables Have Turned As Senate Barrels Toward Homeland Security Deadline

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 1:45 am

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

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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4:22am

Mon February 23, 2015
It's All Politics

For TSA Officers, Congress' Inaction On Funding Could Hit Home

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 4:23 pm

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

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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10:56am

Sun February 8, 2015
It's All Politics

McConnell's Call For 'Regular Order' May Not Mean What It Used To

Originally published on Sun February 8, 2015 11:41 am

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky returns to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 29, 2015.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

"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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5:48pm

Tue February 3, 2015
Politics

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Has A Ted Cruz Problem

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 6:55 pm

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

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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6:09am

Wed January 28, 2015
Politics

Grassley Leads Senate Judiciary Panel As Loretta Lynch Hearings Begin

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 3:57 pm

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks during the Freedom Summit on Jan. 24, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall AP

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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7:50am

Sat January 10, 2015
Politics

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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5:01am

Mon January 5, 2015
Politics

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/.

4:38pm

Thu January 1, 2015
Politics

2014 Yielded Bumper Crop Of Judicial Confirmations

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 10:34 pm

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

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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6:27am

Wed December 17, 2014
Politics

Senate Adjourns, GOP To Take Over In January

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 11:29 am

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The 113th Congress has officially come to a close. The Senate adjourned late last night after passing a bill to extend tax breaks and confirming a slew of nominations. NPR's Ailsa Chang reports.

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