Ailsa Chang http://wesa.fm en Hey, Superheroes On The National Mall: Any Advice For Congress? http://wesa.fm/post/superheroes-go-washington-and-theyve-got-political-advice 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.<p>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.<p>But with so much superhero power concentrated next to the U.S. Fri, 18 Apr 2014 20:08:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 27818 at http://wesa.fm Hey, Superheroes On The National Mall: Any Advice For Congress? Mega-Donor Opens Wallet On The Hill To Kill Online Gambling http://wesa.fm/post/mega-donor-opens-wallet-hill-kill-online-gambling Now that the Supreme Court has eliminated the cap on the total amount one individual can give to candidates in each election, many are wondering how the very rich will respond.<p>If they spread their money across a wider swath of lawmakers, would that improve their chances of passing the legislation they want?<p>Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson could be the first test case.<p><strong>Expanding One's Reach Across Congress</strong><p>Adelson is pushing a bill through Congress that would ban online gambling, and he has pledged he will spend "whatever it takes."<p>The Supreme Court has ruled that a Thu, 03 Apr 2014 20:43:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 26985 at http://wesa.fm Mega-Donor Opens Wallet On The Hill To Kill Online Gambling As Obamacare Deadline Nears, Louisiana Gets Special Attention http://wesa.fm/post/obamacare-deadline-nears-louisiana-gets-special-attention With only four days left before the March 31 enrollment deadline, the White House is kicking into high gear trying to round up more Affordable Care Act enrollees – and Louisiana got special attention Thursday.<p>Why? Enrollment in the federal healthcare exchange there has lagged behind other states and, perhaps as important, citizens are getting bombarded with anti-ACA ads as Democratic Sen. Thu, 27 Mar 2014 22:10:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 26614 at http://wesa.fm As Obamacare Deadline Nears, Louisiana Gets Special Attention How To Meet Your Congressman http://wesa.fm/post/how-meet-your-congressman 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.<p>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.<p>First, do the math. Wed, 26 Mar 2014 07:30:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 26479 at http://wesa.fm How To Meet Your Congressman With Clock Ticking Down, Obama Polishes Judicial Legacy http://wesa.fm/post/clock-ticking-down-obama-polishes-judicial-legacy Republicans have a decent shot at taking control of the Senate in November, so President Obama could have as little as nine months left to shape the judiciary he will leave behind.<p>Senate Democrats positioned themselves to help with that endeavor when they eliminated the filibuster for most judicial nominees last November. But Republicans are still finding ways to slow things down.<p>When Senate Republicans lost their ability to filibuster judicial nominees, many claimed the federal bench would change forever. Fri, 21 Mar 2014 20:32:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 26273 at http://wesa.fm With Clock Ticking Down, Obama Polishes Judicial Legacy Senate Blocks Military Sexual Assault Reforms http://wesa.fm/post/senate-blocks-military-sexual-assault-reforms Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.<p>After months of anticipation, the Senate has rejected a proposal to fundamentally change the way the military prosecutes sexual assault. Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand of New York needed 60 votes for a bill that would give military prosecutors, rather than commanders, final say over which sexual assault cases to prosecute. The legislation got 55 votes today.<p>With us now is NPR's congressional reporter Ailsa Chang to talk about the fight around Gillibrand's legislation. Thu, 06 Mar 2014 21:16:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 25450 at http://wesa.fm FEMA Flood Insurance Law Faces Partial Repeal Over Premiums http://wesa.fm/post/overhaul-fema-program-has-homeowners-calling-congress The House is expected to vote as early as next week to partially repeal a 2012 law that overhauled the National Flood Insurance Program, which is tens of billions of dollars in debt.<p>The law was meant to make people living in flood-prone areas foot more of the insurance bill. But lawmakers didn't realize how many homeowners would be affected — or how hard they'd be hit.<p>You can find some of those homeowners in Bayou Gauche, about 30 miles west of New Orleans.<p>Like other parts of South Louisiana, this small community is below sea level. Thu, 27 Feb 2014 08:26:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 25080 at http://wesa.fm FEMA Flood Insurance Law Faces Partial Repeal Over Premiums Democratic Sen. Landrieu Walks A Fine Line In Red Louisiana http://wesa.fm/post/democratic-sen-landrieu-walks-fine-line-red-louisiana If Democrats are going to keep their majority in the Senate, they'll need to hang on to a few critical seats they hold in conservative states.<p>Mary Landrieu of Louisiana has one of those, and like some of her colleagues up for re-election, her support of the Affordable Care Act could be the mountain to overcome this fall.<p>The question for Landrieu is: Will Louisiana voters define her by Obamacare, or judge her on the entire record she's built over nearly two decades as a senator?<p><strong>For Some, Obamacare's A Dealbreaker </strong><p>There's a sprawling, twisty live oak in Galliano, La. Tue, 25 Feb 2014 08:37:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 24951 at http://wesa.fm Democratic Sen. Landrieu Walks A Fine Line In Red Louisiana Senate Follows House Lead In Passing Debt Limit Raise http://wesa.fm/post/senate-follows-house-lead-passing-debt-limit-raise Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.<p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>And I'm Robert Siegel.<p>Congress has averted a default by raising the country's borrowing limit. The Senate passed the legislation this afternoon after overcoming an attempted filibuster. The bill pushes the debt ceiling deadline to March of 2015 and it now heads to the White House for the president to sign. As NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, Democrats needed five Republicans to join them. Wed, 12 Feb 2014 21:00:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 24323 at http://wesa.fm Does Congress Have Enough Political Will To Reduce The Debt? http://wesa.fm/post/does-congress-have-enough-political-will-reduce-debt Transcript <p>RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: <p>When Congress reached a bipartisan budget deal last December, there was much fanfare about the compromises made by both parties. And immediately afterwards, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle began working to reverse one of the spending cuts - a small reduction in military pensions. One plan to restore those pensions is up for a vote today in the Senate. Mon, 10 Feb 2014 10:18:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 24173 at http://wesa.fm Gun Control Lobby Takes Note Of Opposition's Success http://wesa.fm/post/gun-control-lobby-takes-note-oppositions-success For gun control advocates hoping to see federal gun laws tighten after the shootings in Newtown, Conn., 2013 was a disheartening year. A narrow provision to expand background checks failed in the Senate.<p>For gun rights activists, the death of that legislation proved once more their single-issue intensity and decades-long grass-roots organizing were enough to prevail. Those are also valuable lessons for their opponents.<p><strong>A 'Voice' For Lost Children</strong><p>It may have been the year gun control legislation collapsed in the Senate, but Shundra Robinson is grateful for 2013. Thu, 26 Dec 2013 08:17:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 21957 at http://wesa.fm Gun Control Lobby Takes Note Of Opposition's Success Will Obamacare Play Big In 2014? Keep An Eye On N.H. Senate Race http://wesa.fm/post/will-obamacare-play-big-2014-keep-eye-nh-senate-race With a new White House push to promote the Affordable Care Act well underway, the question is whether an improved HealthCare.gov site and onslaught of positive talking points will be enough to bolster Senate Democrats facing tough races in 2014.<p>One re-election fight to watch is Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's in New Hampshire, where she's been taking heat for supporting the new health care law.<p>Step inside a small diner called Chez Vachon in a working-class section of Manchester, N.H., and you'd never guess the White House is actually regaining its footing on the health care rollout. Mon, 09 Dec 2013 10:45:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 21030 at http://wesa.fm Will Obamacare Play Big In 2014? Keep An Eye On N.H. Senate Race Congressional Odd Couple Could Be Key To Any Budget Breakthrough http://wesa.fm/post/congressional-odd-couple-could-be-key-any-budget-breakthrough Twenty-nine lawmakers are supposed to come up with a long-term budget deal by mid-December. They meet again Wednesday around a conference table, led by two people who couldn't be more different: Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.<p>At 6-foot-1, Ryan looms over Murray by more than a foot. He's known as a budget geek, but managed to get a photo spread in Time magazine last year doing bicep curls in a T-shirt. Wed, 13 Nov 2013 08:17:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 19723 at http://wesa.fm Congressional Odd Couple Could Be Key To Any Budget Breakthrough When Lobbyists Literally Write The Bill http://wesa.fm/post/when-lobbyists-literally-write-bill It's taken for granted that lobbyists influence legislation. But perhaps less obvious is that they often write the actual bills — even word for word.<p>In an example a week and a half ago, the House passed a measure that would roll back a portion of the 2010 financial reforms known as Dodd-Frank. Mon, 11 Nov 2013 19:03:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 19624 at http://wesa.fm When Lobbyists Literally Write The Bill Obama's Nominations Blocked Again In Senate http://wesa.fm/post/obamas-nominations-blocked-again-senate Senate Republicans have once again blocked President Obama's nominees. Despite a deal in July to let several of the president's picks go through, the rancor has returned with a fresh batch of appointments. Two nominations failed within less than an hour on Thursday, and Democrats may once again threaten to change Senate rules so Republicans can't easily derail another nomination. Fri, 01 Nov 2013 09:11:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 19101 at http://wesa.fm Health Site Glitches Have At-Risk Democrats Favoring Delay http://wesa.fm/post/health-law-glitches-have-risk-democrats-favoring-delay The <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/10/29/241577393/tuesday-political-mix-obamacare-official-in-the-batters-box">messy rollout of the online exchanges</a> under the Affordable Care Act has provided fodder for Republicans determined to make Obamacare an issue in the 2014 elections.<p>A handful of Democratic incumbents in battleground states are among senators now calling for an extension of the open enrollment period, which could be a way to curry favor in relatively conservative states.<p>It might be hard to find a senator more obsessed with how well HealthCare.gov is run Tue, 29 Oct 2013 21:01:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 18943 at http://wesa.fm Health Site Glitches Have At-Risk Democrats Favoring Delay Senate Gets A Dose Of Scolding With Its Morning Prayer http://wesa.fm/post/senate-gets-dose-scolding-its-daily-prayer It's easy to tune out when the Senate goes through its morning rituals. The president pro tem calls the chamber to order; there's the Pledge of Allegiance. One morning could sound like any other.<p>Except for the past two weeks. Barry C. Sun, 13 Oct 2013 09:41:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 18056 at http://wesa.fm Senate Gets A Dose Of Scolding With Its Morning Prayer What Furlough? GOP Lawmakers Choose How Much Burden To Bear http://wesa.fm/post/what-furlough-gop-legislators-keep-staff-working As the government shutdown enters its fifth day, House Republicans and Senate Democrats continue to spar over who's being more unreasonable in this fight.<p>GOP members now find themselves on the defensive, as they face questions about forgoing pay and forgoing staff during the widespread furloughs.<p>Hundreds of thousands of federal workers were forced to figure out this week just how many paychecks they could afford to skip. In a show of solidarity, at least 150 lawmakers said they'd give up their pay, too. Sat, 05 Oct 2013 10:49:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 17670 at http://wesa.fm What Furlough? GOP Lawmakers Choose How Much Burden To Bear Clock Keeps Ticking Toward Government Shutdown http://wesa.fm/post/clock-keeps-ticking-toward-government-shutdown Transcript <p>DAVID GREENE, HOST: <p>This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.<p>STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: <p>And I'm Steve Inskeep.<p>The brinksmanship is familiar, but nobody quite knows how the fight over a government shutdown will end.<p>GREENE: Congress has to pass a bill by midnight to keep the government in full operation. House Republicans demanded that all funds be denied to Obamacare in exchange for keeping the government running 45 days. Mon, 30 Sep 2013 08:34:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 17347 at http://wesa.fm With Government Shutdown Looming, All Eyes Turn To House GOP http://wesa.fm/post/government-shutdown-looming-all-eyes-turn-house-gop As expected, the Senate passed a bill Friday to keep the government funded through mid-November — without stripping any funding away from the president's health care law.<p>Now the action returns to the House, where Republicans earlier in the week tied the measure to defunding the Affordable Care Act. With the threat of a shutdown looming three days away, the question is now, what will the House do?<p>On Friday before the Senate vote, even the Senate chaplain hinted that the squabbling and mounting anger on Capitol Hill had gotten out of hand. Sat, 28 Sep 2013 07:43:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 17291 at http://wesa.fm With Government Shutdown Looming, All Eyes Turn To House GOP Republicans Push Back On Obama's D.C. Court Nominees http://wesa.fm/post/republicans-push-back-obamas-dc-court-nominees If President Obama has his way, he will get to fill three more of the 11 slots on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second most powerful court in the country. Obama already has filled one vacancy with Sri Srinivasan, who was confirmed back in May.<p>On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved another nominee for the D.C. Circuit, law professor Cornelia "Nina" Pillard.<p>That means two of the president's picks — Pillard and Patricia Millett, who was approved by the Judiciary Committee on Aug. 1 — are now waiting for a full Senate vote. Thu, 19 Sep 2013 21:17:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 16834 at http://wesa.fm Republicans Push Back On Obama's D.C. Court Nominees Syria Resolution Could Be A Hard Sell On Capitol Hill http://wesa.fm/post/syria-resolution-could-be-hard-sell-capitol-hill Twenty-four hours after President Obama announced on Saturday that he'll wait for congressional authorization before launching strikes on Syria; members of Congress attended a classified briefing at the Capitol.<p>For days, most of the discontent among members of Congress has been about not being included in the deliberations on Syria, about not getting the chance to vote. Now that they've gotten their way, each member of Congress will have to go on the record.<p>"Right now, I would say, if the vote were today, it would probably be a no vote," Republican Rep. Mon, 02 Sep 2013 07:31:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 15834 at http://wesa.fm Syria Resolution Could Be A Hard Sell On Capitol Hill Many U.S. Lawmakers Want A Say On Taking Action In Syria http://wesa.fm/post/many-us-lawmakers-want-say-taking-action-syria The Obama administration appears poised to attack Syria after concluding Bashar Assad's government used chemical weapons, but many members of Congress say they haven't been briefed enough about why military action is warranted.<p>Opinions about Syria are all over the map, with many lawmakers saying the president cannot proceed without first getting authorization from Congress.<p>What's been irritating to a lot of lawmakers is that Obama doesn't seem to be asking for their permission at all. Wed, 28 Aug 2013 20:52:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 15612 at http://wesa.fm Many U.S. Lawmakers Want A Say On Taking Action In Syria In Rural N.C., New Voter ID Law Awakens Some Old Fears http://wesa.fm/post/rural-nc-new-voter-id-law-awakens-some-old-fears <em>This week, North Carolina's governor signed a new law requiring a state-approved photo ID to cast a vote in a polling place and shortening the period for early voting. The move comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which had required large parts of the state to get federal approval before changing voting laws. </em><p><em>Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, says <em>the new law will protect the state from voter fraud. Fri, 16 Aug 2013 21:37:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 15007 at http://wesa.fm In Rural N.C., New Voter ID Law Awakens Some Old Fears Senate Passes Student Loan Legislation To Lower Interest Rates http://wesa.fm/post/senate-passes-student-law-legislation-lower-interest-rates Transcript <p>ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: <p>From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.<p>After a long wait, the Senate has finally passed student loan legislation. It would restore lower interest rates for undergraduates. Many of them saw their rates double on July 1st when the Senate missed its deadline.<p>As NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, the new measure closely resembles both what the president wanted and what the House has already passed.<p>AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: This sometimes geeky debate about where to set interest rates for students has really been about larger questions. Wed, 24 Jul 2013 20:45:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 13687 at http://wesa.fm