Republican seeks to strike language requiring women to register for draft

Republican seeks to strike language requiring women to register for draft
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A Republican congressman is seeking to strike language requiring women to register for the draft from a defense policy bill.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), chairman of the House Rules Committee, on Monday filed an amendment striking the language to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“I have the utmost respect and deepest appreciation for the young women who bravely volunteer to serve our country, but I am adamantly opposed to expanding the draft and coercing America’s daughters to fight on the front lines,” Sessions said in a written statement to The Hill.

Language requiring women to register for the draft was added to the bill in a surprise move last month during the House Armed Services Committee’s markup.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) offered the amendment to make a point about the ramifications of opening combat jobs to women. But six Republicans joined with all but one of the committee’s Democrats in voting for it, leading to its surprise 32-30 passage and inclusion in the larger bill.

Congress has been debating what do to about the draft — which hasn’t been enacted since the Vietnam War — since Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced late last year that all combat jobs would be open to women.

In 1981, the Supreme Court ruled women did not have to register, since combat jobs were closed to them.

Some lawmakers and defense leaders have said Carter’s decision means women should now have to register for the draft.

Other lawmakers want to continue barring women from registering, while still others want the draft to be abolished altogether.

The NDAA is expected to come to the House floor next week.

In his statement, Sessions said he is looking forward to debating the issue with his colleagues.

“In the coming weeks we will consider this bill in the Rules Committee,” he said, “and I look forward to expressing my opinion on this critical issue and engaging in a thoughtful and robust discussion with my colleagues.”