WASHINGTON, May 17, 2016 — A war of words is being waged in the House of Representatives over whether women should be required to register for the draft. Last month, the House Armed Services Committee passed the Draft America’s Daughters Act (DADA) as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The provision would have required women between the ages of 18-26 to register for the draft as men are now required to do.
Yet according to the Hill, the House Rules Committee, chaired by Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, stripped the provision from the NDAA on Tuesday. Why?
The vote for the draft registration requirement was 32-30. The issue has been controversial. It came to the forefront after Defense Secretary Ash Carter opened all combat jobs to women in 2015. The heads of the Marine Corps and the Army have testified in congressional hearings that because all combat roles are open to women, they should be required to register for the draft.
But in striking DADA, which had been approved for debate in a 234-181 vote, the Rules Committee included a measure that added a “considered as adopted” amendment removing the registration provision and directing a study of the Selective Service System be done.
The move to remove DADA was political, according to Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo. He believes that as long as the draft exists, it should be mandatory for women as well.
The decision to remove DADA was also opposed by Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass. She said that the vote “precludes Congress from having an open and transparent debate about this very important issue that impacts women’s equality. If we want a full hearing, is there no better place than on the floor of this House,” reported the Hill.
Perhaps House and Senate leaders should put the question before the American people and the presidential candidates. Is the draft really necessary with an all-volunteer military service?
A related question is whether there should be mandatory military service for all citizens 18 and older, as Israel has. Being prepared for attacks on the homeland may require more than an all-volunteer force.
In Israel, military service is compulsory for both males and females. Israel is the only nation in the world that maintains obligatory military service for women. Males serve for three years and females for just under two years, according to the IDF (Israel Defense Forces).
DADA may still be on the legislative table. The Senate Armed Services Committee still has its own version of the Draft America’s Daughters Act. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell supports the measure, and it may see new life if it can survive a joint House and Senate conference committee and subsequent House and Senate votes.