Ailsa Chang en Hey, Superheroes On The National Mall: Any Advice For Congress? 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 20:41:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 64344 at Hey, Superheroes On The National Mall: Any Advice For Congress? Mega-Donor Opens Wallet On The Hill To 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 20:02:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 63335 at Mega-Donor Opens Wallet On The Hill To Kill Online Gambling As 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 62866 at As Obamacare Deadline Nears, Louisiana Gets Special Attention How To 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 62707 at How To Meet Your Congressman With 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 20:16:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 62446 at With Clock Ticking Down, Obama Polishes Judicial Legacy Senators Agree To Compromise Extending Jobless Benefits Negotiators in the Senate reached a bi-partisan deal to extend unemployment benefits for 5 months, retroactive to the end of last year. A full Senate vote isn't expected until later this month. Fri, 14 Mar 2014 09:03:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 61910 at 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 61377 at Democrats Help Block Nominee For DOJ's Top Civil Rights Job Transcript <p>DAVID GREENE, HOST: <p>This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.<p>LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST: <p>And I'm Linda Wertheimer.<p>A handful of Senate Democrats joined Republicans yesterday to defeat President Obama's choice to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.<p>Debo Adegbile is a civil rights lawyer who once helped handle the appeal of a cop killer. Thu, 06 Mar 2014 10:22:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 61330 at House Approves Measure To Ease Flood Insurance Hikes Transcript <p>LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST: <p>The House overwhelmingly passed legislation last night to undo flood insurance reform that Congress passed less than two years ago. When homeowners started calling lawmakers about sharp premium hikes, both chambers moved swiftly to ease the pain.<p>NPR's Ailsa Chang reports.<p>AILSA CHNAG, BYLINE: In 2012, Democrat Maxine Waters of California put her name on a bill that was meant to help the National Flood Insurance Program dig itself out of huge debt. Last night, she said she made a big mistake.<p>REPRESENTATIVE MAXINE WATERS: Mr. Wed, 05 Mar 2014 10:13:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 61242 at FEMA Flood Insurance Law Faces Partial Repeal Over Premiums 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 60860 at FEMA Flood Insurance Law Faces Partial Repeal Over Premiums Democratic Sen. Landrieu Walks A Fine Line In 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 60682 at Democratic Sen. Landrieu Walks A Fine Line In Red Louisiana Senate Follows House Lead In 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 21:29:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 59824 at Does Congress Have Enough Political Will To Reduce The 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 59624 at Senate Moves Forward On Unemployment Benefits In a tally that surprised even its sponsors, a half dozen Republican senators gave Democrats enough votes to move forward with a bill extending emergency unemployment benefits for another three months. The proposal likely faces an even tougher hurdle in the Republican-controlled House. Wed, 08 Jan 2014 10:21:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 57360 at Gun Control Lobby Takes Note Of Opposition's 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 56612 at Gun Control Lobby Takes Note Of Opposition's Success Will Obamacare Play Big In 2014? Keep An Eye On N.H. Senate Race With a new White House push to promote the Affordable Care Act well underway, the question is whether an improved 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 11:06:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 55455 at Will Obamacare Play Big In 2014? Keep An Eye On N.H. Senate Race House To Vote On GOP Solution To Canceled Insurance Transcript <p>RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: <p>It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.<p>STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: <p>And I'm Steve Inskeep. The first part of October was a political disaster for the Republican Party. After being blamed for the government shutdown, the GOP approval rating fell to historic lows.<p>MONTAGNE: The weeks since have become a political disaster for Democrats. Fri, 15 Nov 2013 09:50:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 53944 at Congressional Odd Couple Could Be Key To 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 53772 at Congressional Odd Couple Could Be Key To Any Budget Breakthrough When Lobbyists Literally Write The 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 53641 at When Lobbyists Literally Write The Bill Obama's Nominations Blocked Again In 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 52985 at Health Site Glitches Have At-Risk Democrats Favoring Delay The <a href="">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 is run Tue, 29 Oct 2013 20:49:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 52785 at Health Site Glitches Have At-Risk Democrats Favoring Delay Defeat Isn't Easy For Conservative Republicans To Admit Transcript <p>STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: <p>It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.<p>RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: <p>And I'm Renee Montagne.<p>For weeks, Republican and Democratic lawmakers insisted there were votes to raise the debt ceiling and reopen government, if only speaker John Boehner would allow a vote. Last night, he did. The measure easily passed, having already received an overwhelming vote in the Senate. President Obama signed the measure into law shortly after midnight. Thu, 17 Oct 2013 08:38:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 52004 at House Waits For Details On Senate Bipartisan Proposal With the debt ceiling deadline looming just two days away, Senate leaders say they're close to a deal that would reopen the government and avert default. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have been leading bipartisan talks on a way out of the deadlock. Even if a bipartisan agreement clears the Senate, it will likely be a hard sell to House Republicans. Tue, 15 Oct 2013 09:03:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 51841 at Senate Gets A Dose Of Scolding With Its Morning 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 51736 at Senate Gets A Dose Of Scolding With Its Morning Prayer Some Republicans Say Debt Limit Fuss Is A Lot Of Hype For weeks, economists and bankers have been warning that there will be catastrophic consequences if Congress fails raise the nation's borrowing limit.<p>They say it will mean the nation will default on its debt, which could rock U.S. and global markets. The Treasury has warned that it will exhaust the "extraordinary measures" it has been using to keep paying the nation's bills by Oct. 17.<p>"To actually permit default, according to many CEOs and economists, would be — and I'm quoting here — 'insane,' 'catastrophic,' 'chaos,' " President Obama has said. Thu, 10 Oct 2013 08:44:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 51526 at Some Republicans Say Debt Limit Fuss Is A Lot Of Hype What Furlough? GOP Lawmakers Choose How Much Burden To Bear 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 10:40:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 51213 at What Furlough? GOP Lawmakers Choose How Much Burden To Bear 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 08:42:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 50786 at With Government Shutdown Looming, All Eyes Turn To 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 50710 at With Government Shutdown Looming, All Eyes Turn To House GOP Sen. Cruz Battles To Regain Trust Of GOP House Members Transcript <p>DAVID GREENE, HOST: <p>And President Obama is also paying close attention to what's unfolding on Capitol Hill this week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to move forward yesterday on a bill to keep the government running past October 1st.<p>(SOUNDBITE OF SENATE SESSION)<p>SEN. HARRY REID: I ask unanimous consent the Senate proceed to Executive Session to consider nominee number...<p>SEN. TED CRUZ: Mr. Tue, 24 Sep 2013 09:11:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 50390 at Republicans Push Back On Obama's D.C. 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 21:32:00 +0000 Ailsa Chang 50112 at Republicans Push Back On Obama's D.C. Court Nominees