Congress drops plans to make women register for draft

Congress drops plans to make women register for draft
© Getty

Congress has abandoned plans to require women to register for the draft in an annual defense policy bill.

Instead, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would require a review of the draft registration system.


Senior House and Senate Armed Services committee staffers revealed the change Tuesday while briefing reporters on the final version of the NDAA after months of negotiations between the two chambers.

Though the United States has not drafted anyone into the military since the Vietnam War, men ages 18 to 26 still have to register with the Selective Service System, the agency that administers the draft.

After Defense Secretary Ash Carter opened all combat jobs to women last year, many argued there was no reason for women not to register anymore, including military officers.

Among those who argued that there’s no reason to exclude women from registering was Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainDOJ: Arizona recount could violate civil rights laws Cheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women Conservative Club for Growth PAC comes out against Stefanik to replace Cheney MORE (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and the provision was included in the Senate’s version of the NDAA.

The provision had been included in the House version but was stripped when it came to the House floor. Instead, the House-passed version required a review of the Selective Service System to see if it is still necessary.

Conservatives pushed House and Senate negotiators to drop the provision, arguing that requiring women to register was putting “culture wars” above national security.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who led the push to drop the provision from the bill, hailed the final version Tuesday.

“Defense bills are common in Washington but, this year, the big story is that both sides will put national security ahead of unnecessary culture-warring," Sasse said in a statement. "This is a victory for common sense. It’s encouraging to see Congress do its work instead of jumping into a fight about drafting our mothers, sisters, and daughters when the military isn’t demanding an end to our all-volunteer fighting-force.”