Women would have to register for the military draft if a proposal approved this week by the Senate Armed Services Committee makes it into law.
Under current law, men over 18 must register with the Selective Service.
According to the Selective Service website, the “last draft call was on December 7, 1972, and the authority to induct expired on June 30, 1973.”
Draft lotteries to determine who might be called continued through 1976, when they were abandoned. Registration with the Selective Service System was suspended in 1975, but resumed in 1980 and remains in effect today.
Men between the ages of 18 and 25 are currently required to register as part of eligibility for federal programs including aid for education.
A summary released by the committee said the provision was included as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2022 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
The summary noted the panel’s version of the NDAA “[s]trengthens the All-Volunteer Force” and reinforces “the principles of a strong, diverse, inclusive force; that force cohesion requires a command climate that does not tolerate extremism, sexual misconduct or sexual harassment.”
The summary also said the bill “Amends the Military Selective Service Act to require the registration of women for Selective Service.” No further comment about the change was included in the statement.
The panel’s action touched off intense debate on Twitter.
The purpose of the draft is to rapidly replace front line combat losses.
Requiring women to register for the draft, when there is no shortage of men, is bad policy, and risks bogging down the screening system with people who aren’t ideal in hand to hand combat roles.
— Wade Miller 1️⃣7️⃣7️⃣6️⃣ (@WadeMiller_USMC) July 20, 2021
If it gets to the point another draft is required, my husband should go over me. Not because I’m incapable or unfit, but because he’s stronger, faster, and has better reflexes. Traits a solider needs to survive, that most men have over women, and I would want him to come back. https://t.co/o8HpECBvC7
— Curvy Wolf (@CurvyWolf) July 23, 2021
This is—and I can’t stress this enough—NOT the move, @SenateDems.
Whether requiring all men or all people to serve the U.S. military, a potential draft requires people to submit their bodily autonomy to the state & agree to participate in war.https://t.co/sbuwRDMPSB
— Mac Hamilton (she/hers) (@macnham) July 19, 2021
We can argue whether the draft is a good idea or not, but both men and women being required to register is the correct move… very long overdue and unconstitutional that only men have had to for so long to. https://t.co/E28wt4eiSY
— Gamecock Noah 🥵 (@GamecockNoah) July 22, 2021
No. You are not drafting our daughters. https://t.co/rm7yml9w0u
— Russ Vought (@russvought) July 19, 2021
The House will consider the NDAA next. Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California, who chairs the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, supports drafting women, according to Roll Call.
In 2017, Speier sought to have the change included in that year’s NDAA, but failed.
“I actually think if we want equality in this country, if we want women to be treated precisely like men are treated and that they should not be discriminated against, we should be willing to support a universal conscription,” Speier said at the time.
The FY22 NDAA includes one other provision impacting women. It would create special military justice offices that would take charge of investigating claims of sexual assault.
Throughout the debate on women being drafted, military leaders have said they do not want to abandon the all-volunteer military, in which women are as free to enlist as men.
That has prompted calls to get rid of the draft entirely, which would save $25 million annually, according to Military.com.
“Congress hasn’t come close to reinstating a military draft in 50 years, and I can’t imagine a scenario where it would,” Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said in April when introducing a bill to abolish the Selective Service.
“It has been nearly 50 years since the draft was last used,” Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky added. “I’ve long stated that if a war is worth fighting, Congress will vote to declare it and people will volunteer. This outdated government program no longer serves a purpose and should be eliminated permanently.”
The Supreme Court has been asked to rule on the issue of an all-male draft, but has deferred hearing a case on the matter pending any action Congress might take.
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