By Jonah Bennett
A provision to force women to sign up for the draft just narrowly cleared the House Committee on Armed Services, passing an important hurdle in the legislative process.
This provision, originally introduced by GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter as a way of pointing out the logical implication of allowing women serving in combat roles, would mandate that women, just like men, sign up for Selective Service within 30 days of turning 18, Military Times reports.
Hunter did not support his own measure. It passed anyway, albeit only narrowly, by a 32-30 vote.
Women have been excluded from the draft because they were excluded from combat roles. Now that Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has turned that arrangement on its head, opening up all combat roles to women in December, the justification for not drafting women has evaporated.
Hunter wasn’t about to wait to let the Pentagon or White House decide on the matter, which is why he introduced the measure, although he is in principle opposed to allowing women in combat roles and has been a stringent critic of Carter’s decision. The measure is his way of pointing out the absurdity.
“Right now the draft is sexist. Right now the draft only drafts young men,” Hunter said, according to The Washington Examiner.
Yet, Hunter’s measure attracted support from across the aisle.
“While you may be offering this as a gotcha amendment, I think there’s great merit in recognizing each of us have an obligation to be willing to serve our country in time of war and provide some period of time when we do some kind of service,” Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier said, as she registered her support for the measured.
Several top military officials have supported the idea of making women sign up for the draft. However, the general sentiment is that it’s unlikely a draft will be used again. The last time the draft was used was back in 1973. Even during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, no one really considered the option of a draft. This year’s National Defense Authorization Act also includes a provision to mandate that the military run a study to see if the draft is necessary in the future. Selective Service costs the government about $23 million a year to run.
The next step for this legislation is for the Senate to review House panel changes.