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Defense bill won’t include women military draft requirement: Report

U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Briana Barca poses for a photo on Camp Lejeune. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Zachary Zephir)
December 07, 2021

The National Defense Authorization Act will not include a provision that would force women to register for the military draft, according to two people familiar with the discussions, Politico reported on Monday.  

House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders agreed to remove the provision from the final version of the NDAA in a major win for conservatives, but one of the people familiar with the negotiations said the provision was removed as part of a deal to get Republicans to agree to military justice system reforms.

Conservative Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) was among those opposed to the draft requirement, tweeting on Monday that he “will continue to insist on a vote on the Senate floor to strike the provision” if it remained in the final bill.

In a statement, Hawley said it’s “wrong to force our daughters, mothers, wives and sisters to fight our wars.”

“Our country is extremely grateful for the brave women who have volunteered to serve our country with and alongside our fighting forces,” he continued. “But volunteering for military service is not the same as being forced into it, and no woman should be compelled to do so.”

Another Republican from Missouri, Rep. Vicky Hartzler, praised the provision’s removal and argued that requiring women to register for the draft would have imposed “a woke ideology on our troops rather than meeting the current needs of our military.”

“Women are not chess pieces in a political game. They are doctors, lawyers, engineers and already valuable members of our all-volunteer force,” Hartzler said. “I applaud the removal of this unnecessary provision and am grateful to see reasonable minds come together to join me in resisting this effort.”

After the Pentagon opened all combat positions to women in 2015, calls to expand the draft to include women ramped up. There hasn’t been a draft since the Vietnam War, but the registration system that calls upon all “male persons” remains in place.

In September, Rep Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) had praised the effort to include women in the draft.

“The military selective service system hasn’t been used to draft Americans in decades – I hope it stays that way. But should our nation face a catastrophe so large we need to activate our selective service system, we must be ready to have all hands on deck. That includes women,” Houlahan said in a statement.

President Joe Biden also supported included women in the selective service.

“The administration supports section 513 and the registration requirement for all citizens, which further ensures a military selective system that is fair and just,” the Biden administration said, referencing the section of the bill that included the requirement, as reported by the Albany Herald.