Women would be required to register for the draft under a bill introduced Thursday by Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), two veterans.
Hunter said he introduced the bill to force Congress to consider the ramifications of the Pentagon's recent decision to open all combat jobs to women. The Marine veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and member of the House Armed Service Committee has been a vocal opponent of that move.
“It’s wrong and irresponsible to make wholesale changes to the way America fights its wars without the American people having a say on whether their daughters and sisters will be on the front lines of combat,” he said in a statement Thursday.
“If this administration wants to send 18-20 year old women into combat, to serve and fight on the front lines, then the American people deserve to have this discussion through their elected representatives.”
The bill comes two days after the top generals in the Army and Marines said that women should be required to register for the draft now that they can serve in all combat jobs.
On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter also weighed in, saying he believes Congress should decide whether women should be forced to register.
The military is currently an all-volunteer service. But most men in the United States between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register with the government and report to serve in the armed services if called.
Under Hunter and Zinke's bill women between the ages of 18 and 26 would be required to register either 90 days after the enactment of the legislation or 90 days after the Defense secretary certifies to Congress that all combat specialties are open to women.
Hunter said he likely wouldn’t vote for the bill if comes to the House floor and that it’s “unfortunate” he had to introduce it.
“The administration made its decision to open all combat specialties without regard for the research and perspective of the Marine Corps and special operations community, or without consideration or care for whether the draft would have to be opened to both men and women,” Hunter said.
“This discussion should have occurred before decision making of any type, but the fact that it didn’t now compels Congress to take a honest and thorough look at the issue.”