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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4:04am

Fri May 8, 2015
It's All Politics

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

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 10:09 am

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

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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3:17pm

Sat May 2, 2015
It's All Politics

Full Senate Debates May Reveal Recent Bipartisanship As An Illusion

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 1:02 am

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

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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7:52pm

Wed April 29, 2015
It's All Politics

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

Originally published on Thu April 30, 2015 11:49 am

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

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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4:37pm

Tue April 21, 2015
It's All Politics

In Latest Outbreak Of Bipartisanship, Senate Compromises On Trafficking Bill

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 8:53 pm

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

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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3:21pm

Tue April 14, 2015
Politics

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

Originally published on Tue April 14, 2015 6:45 pm

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

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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