By Debbie Gregory.
Selective Service law, as it’s written now, refers specifically to “male persons” in stating who must register and who would be drafted. For women to be required to register with Selective Service, Congress would have to amend the law.And that may happen sooner rather than later.
Now, for the first time in American history, a provision that would require women to register for the military draft was included as part of the massive 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that passed the Senate with an 85-13 vote.
The new requirement would apply to any woman who turns 18 on or after January 1, 2018.
The United States first conscripted soldiers during the Civil War, and did so again for both World Wars I and II. All three times, the draft ended when the wars ended. It wasn’t until the Cold War that the draft became a peacetime fixture, remaining in effect until the U.S. military became an all-volunteer force in 1973.
Registration returned in 1980 when Russia invaded Afghanistan, and President Carter felt it prudent to do so.
Men who are 18-25 that fail to register with the Selective Service could lose eligibility for student financial aid, job training and government jobs. Immigrant men could lose their eligibility for U.S. citizenship.
The language requiring the draft for women has created quite a bit of controversy.
It comes as the military services welcome women into previously closed ground combat units in keeping with a mandate from Defense Secretary Ash Carter given late last year.
Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah introduced an amendment that would have removed the draft language from the bill, but it was unsuccessful.
The House and Senate must now reconcile their versions of the NDAA in conference before final passage.