Defense Bill May Not Include Provision on Drafting Women

drafting women

By Debbie Gregory.

House and Senate negotiators plan to shelve the provision requiring women to register for the draft in favor of ordering up a study of the issue.

Last year at this time, Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the combat exclusionary rule for women and opened up all military jobs to women in the military who qualify. The Senate Armed Services Committee then said that Carter’s action had removed any justification for limiting draft registration to men.

A few months later, Rep. Duncan Hunter and Rep. Ryan Zinke, opposed to Carter’s action, introduced a bill titled the “Draft America’s Daughters Act of 2016” that would require women to register with the Selective Service System.

Both Hunter and Zinke said they were opposed to their own bill, but argued that a debate in Congress was necessary on lifting the combat exclusion rule for women.

Carter, the service secretaries, and the service chiefs have made clear that requiring women to register for the draft was up to Congress, and they have yet to voice any opposition to such a move.

President Obama supports requiring women to register for Selective Service when they turn 18. He is the first president to endorse universal draft registration since Jimmy Carter.

Obama believes adding women to the draft would serve two purposes: showing a commitment to gender equality throughout the armed services, and fostering a sense of public service that comes from requiring draft registration as a ritual of adulthood.

“As old barriers for military service are being removed, the administration supports — as a logical next step — women registering for the Selective Service,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for Obama’s National Security Council.

But the timing of Obama’s support makes it mostly symbolic, coming in the final weeks of his presidency.

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