Female lawmakers hail decision on women in combat

Female lawmakers hail decision on women in combat

Women in Congress from both parties are applauding the Pentagon’s decision Thursday to open all combat positions to women.

“Today’s historic announcement finally recognizes that our military is strongest when it prioritizes merit and capability, not gender — and it’s about damn time,” Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyLoeffler releases new ad targeting Sanders's 'socialism' GOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman Overnight Health Care: Officials confirm 34 total coronavirus cases in US | ObamaCare favorability hits highest level in poll | McSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign MORE (R-Ariz.) said in a written statement.

“Women have been fighting and dying for our country since its earliest wars,” added McSally, a retired Air Force colonel and the first female pilot to fly in combat and command a combat squadron. “They have shown they can compete with the best of the best and succeed.”

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Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced Thursday afternoon there would be no exceptions to the order to open all combat jobs to women depite the Marines' request to keep some jobs closed.

Democrats echoed McSally’s sentiment, but cautioned there’s more work to be done to ensure equality.

Rep. Niki TsongasNicola (Niki) Sauvage TsongasMassachusetts New Members 2019 Dem House candidate says she'll file Clarence Thomas impeachment resolution if elected Lawmakers demand action, hearing in response to VA improperly denying sexual trauma claims MORE (D-Mass.) said the decision was long overdue and will allow women to take on more leadership roles in the military.

“More women entering into combat means more women rise through the ranks to take on leadership roles, and gain the important status and power to better advocate for important issues that affect all servicemembers,” she said in a written statement. “This progress is a proclamation of equality to every member of the armed forces that will open more doors than we have even begun to imagine.”

Still, she added, there’s more work to be done to ensure the military fully supports women.

“[A]s the doors open to servicewomen and a greater talent pool is tapped, the military must find ways to support all those who wear the uniform,” she said. “This necessitates addressing women’s health matters and developing equipment and policies that increase women’s safety and success on and off the battlefield. Supporting military women is essential to building the strongest military possible.”

Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierHouse passes bill paving way for ERA ratification Abortion wars flare up in Congress House Democrats question Secret Service on payments to Trump properties MORE (D-Calif.) was also concerned about providing adequate healthcare, as well as addressing sexual assault in the military.

But she, too, said the decision was a long time coming.

“It is gratifying to see the Defense Department announce the same decision many of our allies came to long ago: All combat jobs should be open to women,” she said in a written statement. “We know from all the quality data that women are just as capable and lethal on the battlefield, and so many women are already serving their country with pride and distinction.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said opening all jobs to women will help the military with readiness and recruitment.

"This announcement affirms what history has proven to be true: character, courage, physical fitness and commitment to the mission are the hallmarks of extraordinary service members and leaders, and that both men and women possess these qualities," she said in a written statement. "Secretary Carter’s decision will improve our military readiness and help our Armed Forces recruit the most talented individuals throughout all of our services."