(USA Features) The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved a nearly $778 billion defense spending bill that contains a provision requiring women to register for a military draft for the first time in the country’s history.
While House Republicans defeated a similar requirement in 2016, newly released recommendations from a committee established last year to look into requiring women to register has shed new light on the issue.
In March 2020, the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service was empowered by Congress to, among other things, examine the issue of drafting females into military service during times of crisis.
The panel concluded that “the time is right to extend Selective Service System registration to include men and women, between the ages of 18 and 26. This is a necessary and fair step, making it possible to draw on the talent of a unified Nation in a time of national emergency.”
“More than any other topic within the Commission’s mandate, the question of expanding Selective Service registration to all Americans evoked a range of passionate and heartfelt views,” the commission’s report continued.
“Through its public comments, discussions, and hearings, the Commission heard from and met with many Americans who argue that women and men should have equal obligations under the law to register for the Selective Service System and to serve if called to do so,” the report said.
“Many others support women’s right to serve voluntarily in the military but oppose requiring women to register for a potential draft,” it added.
“After listening to a range of perspectives from the American people on this issue, the Commission consulted with — among others — experts in constitutional law and military personnel policy; political leaders at the local, State, and national level; local draft board members; and influential members of various religious communities,” said the report.
“The Commission also thoroughly researched the available evidence surrounding the issue.”
The commission said that after “extensive deliberations,” panel members “ultimately decided that all Americans, men and women, should be required to register for Selective Service and be prepared to serve in the event a draft is enacted by Congress and the President.”
The panel’s report went on to note that registering with the Selective Service is just a process that assists the president and the Pentagon with information regarding the potential number of Americans who would be available for call-up if needed.
Such a database also includes individuals who are ineligible to be called up for a variety of reasons.
The U.S. ended conscription into military service in 1973 as the unpopular Vietnam War was winding down.
At present, only men ages 18-25 are required by law to register for the draft.
In addition, Selective Service notes on its website that the requirement to register depends on “gender assigned at birth and not on gender identity or on gender reassignment.”
“Individuals who are born male and changed their gender to female are still required to register. Individuals who are born female and changed their gender to male are not required to register,” the site says.