GOP-led Committee Votes to Require That Women Register for Draft

Leah Barkoukis
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Posted: Apr 30, 2016 3:34 PM
GOP-led Committee Votes to Require That Women Register for Draft

Since social equality is all the rage, it seems only fitting that months after the Obama administration opened all combat positions to women, they could soon be required to register for the military draft too.

A divided Armed Services Committee backed the provision in a sweeping defense policy bill that the full House will consider next month, touching off a provocative debate about the role of women in the military. […]

The United States has not had a military draft since 1973 in the Vietnam War era, but all men must register with the Selective Service Systems within 30 days of turning 18. Military leaders maintain that the all-volunteer force is working and the nation is not returning to the draft.

Interestingly, Rep. Duncan Hunter, who proposed the measure, didn’t support it. As a former Marine who served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Hunter introduced the bill to make a point. Although clearly his plan didn’t go as expected.

Hunter, R-Calif., said he offered the measure during the committee's consideration of the policy bill to prompt a discussion about how the Pentagon's decision in December to rescind gender restrictions on military service failed to consider whether the exclusion on drafting women also should be lifted.

That's a call for Congress, not the executive branch, Hunter said. "I think we should make this decision," he said. "It's the families that we represent who are affected by this."

At times, Hunter evoked graphic images of combat in an apparent attempt to convince colleagues that drafting women would lead to them being sent directly into harm's way.

"A draft is there to put bodies on the front lines to take the hill," Hunter said. "The draft is there to get more people to rip the enemies' throats out and kill them."

But if Hunter was trying to sway people against his amendment, his plan did not work.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said she supported Hunter's measure. "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," she said.

Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz. and a retired Air Force fighter pilot, said draftees aren't exclusively sent to the front lines. There are plenty of other useful, noncombat positions for them to fill, she said.

When all was said and done the bill passed the GOP-led committee, 32-30. Five Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the measure.

So while the House Armed Services Committee may officially be in favor of changing the status quo with regard to women being required to register for the draft, the debate on this issue is far from over.