Women between the ages of 18 and 25 will be required to register for the Selective Service, the system used to draft people into the military in case of a crisis, if the annual defense funding bill that the House is likely to pass this week makes it to President Joe Biden’s desk.
But despite years of pushback against the policy change from conservatives, House Republicans are now largely willing to accept, or even support, the change long sought by Democrats.
The House Republican Conference distributed messaging points to members on Monday that characterized the National Defense Authorization Act as “one of the most important bills we will pass in Congress as our military faces unprecedented challenges.” A Republican summary of the bill approvingly flaunts measures such as funding increases but does not mention the Selective Service change.
Only a small number of House Republicans see that change as reason enough to oppose the defense bill.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus on Tuesday announced opposition to the NDAA in part due to it “forcing our daughters to sign up for the draft.”
Republican Rep. Charles "Chip" Roy of Texas on Tuesday made a motion to adjourn, a procedural move that forced the whole House to vote and delay additional business, in protest of the draft change and Democratic leadership’s refusal to allow a vote on an amendment removing the provision.
“I will always vote against any bill that permits the government to draft my daughter and I will not support any Republican who votes in favor of its final passage, regardless of excuse,” Roy said in a statement.
Other conservatives who oppose adding women to the draft do not see the issue as enough reason to oppose the bill.
“The NDAA is never perfect, and this is the case where the good far outweighs the bad,” Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, told the Washington Examiner. “I have daughters, I don’t want them drafted into the military. I want our military to be a volunteer force. But I think those debates are going to continue to occur even after the NDAA goes into effect.”
Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, who was an Army combat surgeon in Iraq, noted that there are many jobs in the military and details of the implementation matter.
“There are still physical requirements for certain jobs that you have to be able to perform and fulfill,” he told the Washington Examiner. “It doesn't mean that, you know, if there is a draft, a woman necessarily has to go be in the infantry.”
The House’s NDAA makes changes to modernize the Selective Service System, expanding registration to “all Americans” and adjusting legal language from “men” to “persons.” The change had been sought since combat jobs were opened to women in 2016.
On Sept. 1, four House Republicans on the Armed Services Committee voted with Democrats in favor of an amendment to make women register for the draft: Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Michael Waltz of Florida, Jack Bergman of Michigan, and Patrick Fallon of Texas.
Waltz at the time argued that in the event of a draft, the United States would “need everybody ... man, woman, gay, straight, any religion, black, white, brown.”
The Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this year also included a requirement that women register for the Selective Service in the Senate version of the defense bill.
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise’s office told the Washington Examiner that the House GOP would not be whipping votes for any bill this week other than a resolution to continue funding the government, which passed the House with only Democratic support on Tuesday.
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Original Author: Emily Brooks