Congressionally created commission recommends requiring that women register for draft

A congressionally appointed commission will recommend that women be required to register for the draft, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee and a committee aide confirmed Tuesday.

“The commissioners have made significant recommendations about the future of national service. In the context of future great power competition or modern pandemic response, all of their proposals deserve attention and consideration,” Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said in a statement after being briefed by several members of the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service.

“Opening Selective Service to women is just one of their recommendations,” Thornberry continued. “I look forward to examining the data and arguments the commission has compiled more closely.”

Separately, a committee aide told The Hill that staffers met with the commission, which “briefed that one of their recommendations was to include women in the selective service.”

The recommendation will be made in a report scheduled to be released Wednesday. It was first reported by Politico, which said the report will say opening the draft registration to women is a “necessary and fair step.”

The commission was created by Congress in 2016 to examine the future of the draft after all combat jobs were opened to women.

The United States has not instituted a draft since the Vietnam War, and Pentagon officials have repeatedly said they intend to keep the force all-volunteer.

But men aged 18 through 25 still have to register for the Selective Service System or else face consequences such as losing access to federal financial aid for college.

In 1981, the Supreme Court ruled that women could be excluded from registering since combat jobs were closed to them.

When combat jobs were opened to women, several lawmakers argued there was no longer any reason to exclude women from the draft. Others continued to oppose requiring women to register, and still others say the draft should be abolished altogether.

When the House was considering the annual defense policy bill in 2016, then-Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who opposed opening combat jobs to women, tried to corner lawmakers on the issue by offering an amendment to require women to register for the draft. But the effort backfired, as several Republicans joined with Democrats to approve the amendment.

Ultimately, as conservatives pushed to exclude from the amendment from the final version of the defense bill, the bill that passed Congress that year instead created the commission to review the draft registration requirements.

As the commission was studying the issue, a federal judge in Texas ruled in February 2019 that the all-male draft was unconstitutional in a case brought by a men’s rights group known as the National Coalition for Men. The Trump administration appealed that decision.

Tags Conscription Draft Duncan Hunter Mac Thornberry women and the draft

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