The Obama administration should make a recommendation on whether women should register for the draft, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said Thursday.
Ernst’s comments come the same day a pair of House lawmakers introduced a bill that would require women to register for the draft, as men do.
“I have a position that the administration has opened up combat roles now, and I would like to push that back to the administration and have conversation with the administration on this,” she told reporters.
“Because now if women are able to fulfill those roles, then that’s something that the president needs to talk about, the secretary of Defense needs to talk about," she said.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter has yet to offer an opinion on the issue. On Wednesday, he said he expects Congress to make a decision on whether to force women to register.
Top generals of the Marines and Army told the Senate Armed Services Committee they think women should be required to register.
Ernst, the first female combat veteran in the Senate, supports the decision to open all combat roles to women but said it needs to be implemented correctly.
She said she sees the issues of integrating women into all combat roles and requiring them to register for the draft as two separate issues.
“Even though it’s two separate issues, it seems to be going hand in hand,” she said.
She hasn’t yet seen the text of the House bill introduced Thursday, she said.
Carter is right, Ernst added, that it’s Congress’s decision, because legislation is required to change the draft rules.
But, she said, she still wants to see the administration offer its opinion.
“It was the administration that took down the barriers to combat roles," she said, "so the administration should make a recommendation on that."