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.

Pages

It's All Politics
8:52 pm
Wed April 29, 2015

Seeking Presidency, 'Socialist' Sanders Looks To Elevate Less-Talked About Issues

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a rally demanding presidential action to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Sanders will run to Hillary Clinton's left, trying to elevate economic issues.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 30, 2015 12:49 pm

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is running for president, he said Wednesday night. He will be challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, and the self-described "Democratic Socialist" will keep the pressure on Clinton to move to the left.

Sanders has lamented for a long time what he thinks has been woefully missing from the national conversation.

Read more
Politics
4:42 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

In Latest Outbreak Of Bipartisanship, Senate Compromises On Trafficking Bill

Sen. Mitch McConnell (right) walks with Sen. John Barrasso to a news conference about the compromise Tuesday.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 9:53 pm

A logjam over an anti-human trafficking bill has finally broken in the Senate. Senate negotiators reached a deal after a long impasse over language on abortion funding. The compromise clears the path to a confirmation vote for attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch — a vote Republicans had delayed until after the trafficking bill gets resolved.

It took about six weeks, but the Senate deal on human trafficking was the latest outbreak of bipartisanship in a month that's seen compromises on Iran, Medicare and education.

Read more
Politics
4:21 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

Helping Bridge Congress' Iran Divide, Sen. Ben Cardin Moves Into Spotlight

Cardin, right, confers with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. during a committee markup meeting on the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran Tuesday.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 7:45 pm

It was a fluke that turned Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland into the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez got hit with criminal charges and gave the rank up. Now, just two weeks into his new gig, Cardin has helped bridge the divide on legislation letting Congress weigh in on a nuclear deal with Iran. The bill thrust a man without flash or hubris into the spotlight.

The way his rabbi puts it, Democrat Ben Cardin isn't how you'd picture a senator.

Read more
It's All Politics
3:42 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Budget Reconciliation Explained Through Chutes And Ladders

Think of reconciliation as the biggest ladder in the game Chutes and Ladders — a procedural shortcut. But a presidential veto of whatever gets passed through reconciliation means tumbling back down a chute.
Ben Husmann Flickr

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 7:58 pm

There's a word you're going to be hearing a lot as Congress tries to pass a budget this year: reconciliation. It's a procedural fast-track lawmakers get to use after they approve a budget. Republicans are hoping to repeal the Affordable Care Act — or, at least parts of it — through reconciliation, but they're not likely to win that game.

Read more
It's All Politics
4:37 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Missed Abortion Language Tangles Senate's Trafficking Bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he won't let the chamber vote on Loretta Lynch — the nominee to become the next attorney general — until the Senate passes its human trafficking bill.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 8:01 pm

A once widely supported Senate bill that would create a fund for human trafficking victims has hit a snag over language Democrats say they didn't know was in the bill — a provision that would bar funds collected under the measure from being used to pay for abortions. And the impasse over that language now threatens to delay other Senate business, like confirming a new attorney general.

Read more
It's All Politics
6:28 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

Who Is Tom Cotton, The Man Behind The Iran Letter?

Tom Cotton, R-Ark., the freshman senator and Harvard graduate senator with a record of tough talk on foreign policy.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 1:33 am

The man behind a letter 47 Senate Republicans addressed to Iranian leaders this week is a freshman senator who's been in the chamber just over two months. Tom Cotton was the unusual GOP candidate last fall who thrilled both the Tea Party base and the Republican establishment.

And now, the young Iraq War vet is a rapidly rising star among his new colleagues.

All week – even against a crescendo of backlash about the letter – there were still plenty of Senate Republicans gushing about the youngest member of their chamber.

Read more
Politics
5:19 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/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Read more
Politics
5:47 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

House Passes No-Strings-Attached Bill To Fund Homeland Security

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 6:25 pm

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.

Read more
It's All Politics
8:30 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 Wed February 25, 2015 1:45 am

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.

Read more
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

Read more

Pages