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Defense bill officially adds women military draft registration – moves to House floor for full vote

U.S. Army Pvt. 1st Class Jo Marie Rivera, left, a human resource specialist, and Sgt. 1st Class Rebecca Hamby, a military police officer, both with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, maintain security for a Female Engagement Team chief during a consultation at a clinic in the Tarnak wa Jaldak district, Zabul province, Afghanistan, Sept. 18, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kandi Huggins, Released)
September 03, 2021

The House Armed Services Committee voted on Thursday to add a provision to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2022, requiring women to register for the selective service system used in the event of a military draft.

The House committee voted 35-24 in support of the provision requiring women to register for the draft. All Democrats and some Republicans on the committee voted in favor of the amendment. The amendment now advances with the full NDAA to the House floor for a full vote.

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), a U.S. Air Force veteran, introduced the provision to extend the currently male-only draft registration requirement to now include women.

“Simply put, as the Selective Service System is currently written it is unconstitutional and discriminates based on sex,” Houlahan said. “This amendment clarifies that the purpose of the Selective Service is bigger than just drafting combat replacements. It ensures the Selective Service System is able to provide the DoD with the all sufficient numbers of personnel with the necessary skills in the event of a national mobilization – which means cyber, STEM, technical talent, among others. It’s not limited to the outdated use of those drafted for combat replacement roles.” 

According to Military Times, Houlahan also said, “The current male-only registration sends a message to women not only that they are not vital to the defense of the country, but also that they are not expected to participate in defending it.”

“It’s past time,” she added, Politico reported. “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. Michael Waltz (R-FL), a former U.S. Army Green Beret, was among the Republicans who supported the new expansion of the draft.

Waltz said, “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.”

By contrast, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) 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.”

The legislative effort to now include women in the selective service registration requirement comes after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a lawsuit against the male-only draft requirement after the Biden administration argued the matter could instead be addressed legislatively.

The Senate Armed Services Committee passed a similar measure to extend the draft to the female population in July.