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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NPR Story
5:49 am
Tue August 4, 2015

Planned Parenthood Opponents Talk Government Shutdown After Bill Fails

Originally published on Tue August 4, 2015 8:59 am

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Politics
4:58 pm
Thu July 23, 2015

Obama Administration Officials Defend Iran Nuclear Deal Before Senate

Originally published on Thu July 23, 2015 7:02 pm

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Law
5:19 pm
Tue July 21, 2015

Father Of Slain San Francisco Woman Testifies Before Congress

Originally published on Thu July 23, 2015 6:20 am

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Politics
5:32 pm
Tue July 14, 2015

Congress To Begin 60-Day Review Period Of Iran Nuclear Deal

Originally published on Tue July 14, 2015 7:19 pm

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It's All Politics
4:28 pm
Fri July 3, 2015

A Conservative Firebrand From The Start, Ted Cruz Always Had A Plan

Cruz in his high school yearbook; he was president of the drama club.
Second Baptist High School

Originally published on Thu July 9, 2015 10:23 am

This story is part of NPR's series Journey Home. We're going to the places presidential candidates call home and finding out what those places tell us about how they see the world.

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Politics
4:54 pm
Tue June 23, 2015

Senate Votes To Push Forward White House Trade Plans

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 8:56 pm

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It's All Politics
12:25 pm
Tue June 23, 2015

Republicans Don't Have A Plan Yet To Replace Obamacare Subsidies

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on March 4. The Supreme Court is considering the case of King v. Burwell, which could determine the fate of health care subsidies for millions of people.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 23, 2015 6:03 pm

As the Supreme Court edges closer to issuing an opinion that could deal a blow to the federal health exchange operating in more than 30 states, Democrats have sounded a warning to their colleagues on the other side: Be careful what you wish for.

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Politics
5:26 am
Mon June 1, 2015

Senate Allows 3 Provisions Within The Patriot Act To Expire

Originally published on Mon June 1, 2015 10:57 am

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Politics
5:21 pm
Fri May 29, 2015

Presidential Hopeful Bernie Sanders To Face Test In New Hampshire

Originally published on Fri May 29, 2015 6:20 pm

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

Politics
5:35 pm
Thu May 21, 2015

Senate Advances Bill To Give Obama 'Fast-Track' Trade Authority

Originally published on Thu May 21, 2015 7:07 pm

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Politics
5:08 am
Tue May 19, 2015

Lawmakers Divided Over McConnell's Desire To Extend Surveillance Plan

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 7:42 pm

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Congress is deciding the conditions under which the National Security Agency can monitor your phone records.

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It's All Politics
8:47 am
Thu May 14, 2015

A Trade Deal Read In Secret By Only A Few (Or Maybe None)

To study the draft Trans-Pacific Partnership language, senators have to go to the basement of the Capitol and enter a secured, soundproof room and surrender their mobile devices.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 2:16 pm

This post was updated at 1 p.m. ET

Senate leaders were all smiles Wednesday after they broke a 24-hour impasse and announced they had reached a deal on how to move forward on a fast-track trade negotiating bill. That legislation would give the president expedited authority to enter into a trade agreement with Pacific Rim countries, otherwise known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

But how senators will vote on this bill depends largely on how they feel about TPP. And there's one problem.

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Politics
4:34 pm
Tue May 12, 2015

Senators Deny Obama Authority To Expedite Pacific Trade Deal

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 7:22 pm

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It's All Politics
5:04 am
Fri May 8, 2015

What Eye Contact — And Dogs — Can Teach Us About Civility In Politics

State Sens. Warren Limmer (left) and Bill Ingebrigtsen talk in the Senate chamber. Limmer said he has been scolded for looking at his colleagues during debate before, and had "to beg forgiveness to the Senate president."
David J. Oakes Minnesota State Senate

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 11:09 am

Republican Warren Limmer sits in the second row of the Minnesota state Senate. He says more than 80 percent of his colleagues sit behind him. But he doesn't dare turn around to look at them when he gets up to speak.

He might get scolded. It has happened before.

"Then my cadence is thrown off," Limmer said. "I have to beg forgiveness to the Senate president. And then I'll get a slight admonishment, and then I can proceed."

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It's All Politics
4:17 pm
Sat May 2, 2015

Full Senate Debates May Reveal Recent Bipartisanship As An Illusion

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., center, and the committee's ranking member Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., right, were all smiles April 14 after the committee passed an agreement on oversight of Iran negotiations. But the bill has run into some outspoken opponents in the full Senate.
Andrew Harnik AP

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 2:02 am

Just a few weeks ago we heard a lot about a delicate compromise that would allow Congress to review any deal emerging from nuclear talks with Iran. It came from a bipartisan negotiation in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — to wide acclaim.

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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.

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It's All Politics
5:37 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.

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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.

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It's All Politics
4:24 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.

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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.

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