Biden Administration, Russia, Conor O'brien discussed on All Things Considered


This is all things considered from NPR news I'm Mary Louise Kelly And I'm Adi Cornish The national defense authorization act or NDAA passed last night and is headed towards the Senate Joining us now is Conor O'Brien a defense reporter for Politico has been following the story Welcome to the program Thanks for having me Tell us about the legislation's focus on Russia and China Well this has been a particular focus of The Pentagon trying to after 20 years of war and Afghanistan in the Middle East to reorient and match kind of the military modernization that we've seen coming out of Russia and China It was the focus of the national defense strategy that was issued under the Trump administration and continues under the Biden administration So and it's pretty popular on Capitol Hill So what you saw in this defense Bill was a focus on Russia and China Congress a couple of years ago created this what's called the Pacific deterrent initiative To reorient the military to the Pacific and build up posture there and deter China they put $7 billion into that a couple billion more than the Biden administration requested on Russia with the threat to Ukraine They approved $300 million to arm Ukraine about 50 million more than the administration requested So there are a number of things to that effect It's a major theme of this legislation Money for new technologies That's another that's another area of emphasis for The Pentagon and for lawmakers I think a big thing that you saw in this bill was providing funding for research and development for emerging technologies emphasis on things like AI and hypersonic missiles that are being developed by Russia and China And to allow for that investment you saw a willingness from Congress to allow The Pentagon to retire a lot of older weapons there were some of those some of those parochial battles over some of these what they call legacy weapons planes ships where Congress did kind of override The Pentagon but you did see some willingness to let them move forward with that and to reinvest that You called dropping women out of the draft a stunning reversal Why Well that was the provision that was proposed to expand selective service to require women to register for a draft Was in both the House and Senate defense bills And normally when something is in both bills it's typically a pretty good indicator of bipartisan support which it did have And that it would be in a final compromise bill So when we found out that it was that it was going to be out of the final agreement that was quite surprising I was a victory for conservatives like Josh hawley Jimmy and pushed to get that out of there really played hardball And was indicative of some of the wins that Republicans got in this bill That's Conor O'Brien defense reporter for Politico Thank you for your time Thanks Today the U.S. Supreme Court's conservative supermajority seem poised to hand school choice advocates a big victory as in paralegal affairs correspondent Nina totenberg reports that could mean a very big expansion of state programs that are required to fund religious education Maine is a state so rural that a majority of school districts don't have a high school The way the state has dealt with that problem is to contract with existing public high schools to take kids from the districts with no high school and to pay the same amount to non sectarian private schools to take up the slack as well What the state will not do is pay tuition for students attending religious schools School choice advocates have long sought ways to promote equal treatment for religious schools with taxpayer funds and they had a willing audience today from the court 6 conservatives 5 of whom attended religious schools all signaled that they too view mains refusal to find religious schools as unconstitutional The court's liberals noted that in the past the court has said states may have voucher programs that allow parents to send their kids to religious schools but that in this case school choice advocates are asking the court to require that states must treat religious schools the same way they treat non sectarian private schools Justice breyer suggested that in this case beliefs taught in a religious school seemed to.

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