WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee voted to pass an amendment that would require women to register for the Selective Service System – which maintains information on those potentially subject to military drafts – pushing the measure closer to becoming law.
Previously, the Selective Service System only required men to sign up for it at the age of 18; however, there has not been a draft in the United States in over 40 years, but the system has nonetheless been maintained in case one is ever needed.
Put forward by Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), the amendment – part of the National Defense Authorization Act, an annual defense policy bill which lays out defense spending and military policy – was successfully voted in by a vote of 35-24, with several Republicans breaking ranks and voted with Democrats to pass it.
After the Pentagon opened all combat roles to women in 2015, more females have joined the ranks of the military; as of 2018, 17 percent of the military is made up of women, but some have argued that leaving them out of potential future drafts is a form of discrimination, including Rep. Houlahan, herself an Air Force veteran.
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“It’s past time,” she said. “Women make up over 50 percent of our population, and not including them in the Selective Service is not only a disservice to these women, but also to our nation as a whole.”Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA),
In order for the amendment to become law – of which there is a high chance – the National Defense Authorization Act would have to pass a full vote in the House of Representatives, and then go onto the Senate. However, the Senate Armed Services Committee has included a similar amendment in their version of the defense bill, which is still awaiting its own vote in the chamber.
Some Republicans supported the amendment, with Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) saying that
“If it’s so grave that we have to go to a draft, we need everybody. We need man, woman, gay, straight, any religion, Black, white, brown. We need everybody, all hands on deck.”Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL)
More conservative lawmakers, however, decried the potential inclusion of women in the Selective Service, including Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), who said
“We don’t need to draft women in order for women to have equality in this nation. Women are of worth and of value right now and we are equal with men without having to pass a new law that would require 50 percent of this country – our daughters and our sisters and our wives – to have to be drafted.”Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO