The U.S. House Armed Services Committee has passed a provision that, if signed into law, would require women ages 18 through 26 to register for the military draft. The amendment is attached to a defense spending bill for the next fiscal year.
On April 27, the House committee passed the amendment by a narrow margin of 32-30 votes. The decision follows the decision of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to allow women to serve in all combat roles, the Associated Press reports.
After Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that gender restrictions would be lifted from all combat and infantry roles, top Army and Marine Corps’ leaders recommended that women should be required to register for the draft, according to the Military Times.
“It’s my personal view in light of integration that every American physically qualified should register for the draft,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told the Senate during a February hearing.
The U.S. military draft has been suspended since 1973, but all men aged 18 through 26 are required to register. As of Sept. 30, 2015, 94 percent of all American males between the ages of 20-25 were registered.
Ironically, the congressman who proposed the amendment was against it. Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of California had proposed conscripting women for Selective Service to protest the full gender integration of the military.
Hunter was hoping to begin a dialogue on whether or not the DoD was correct in allowing women to serve in dangerous combat roles.
“A draft is there to put bodies on the front lines to take the hill,” Hunter told his fellow committee members. “The draft is there to get more people to rip the enemies’ throats out and kill them.”
Hunter’s gamble demonstrably did not succeed, with a slight majority of the committee agreeing that women should register for Selective Service.
“We should be willing to support universal conscription,” said Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California, according to The Washington Post. “There’s great merit in recognizing that each of us have an obligation to be willing to serve our country in a time of war.”
The amendment would have to survive in both the Senate and House, which will be submitting the committee’s defense spending bill for approval. The legislation calls for $602 billion in defense spending for the 2017 fiscal year.