Draft Bill: Senate Passes Legislation That Would Require Females To Register For U.S. Draft

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate approved a military policy bill that would require females to register for the U.S. draft along with their male counterparts. Recently in the United States, legislation was passed that allow women in active combat roles in the U.S. military. As a result, a legal battle over the role of women in the military has sprung up. The new draft bill would force women in the United States to register for the Selective Service (the draft) when they turn 18.

The draft bill was approved by the U.S. Senate amid heavy criticism from some conservative special interest groups and a few conservative lawmakers. Surprisingly, the draft bill received broad support from women in both major U.S. political parties and from Republican leaders, reports the New York Times.

The draft bill addresses a U.S. military option that hasn’t been used by the United States government for decades. The last time the draft was implemented to compel U.S. citizens into involuntary military service was back in 1973 during the Vietnam War. Despite the infrequency of the use of the draft, politicians and laypersons alike agree that if women were compelled into the U.S. military draft, the implications for the U.S. military and the future of the United States would be profound.

Per the rules of the new draft bill, which passed through the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, the new draft law would apply to females who turn 18 on or after January 1, 2018.

If the new draft bill passes, any female who turns 18 on or after that date will be forced to register for the U.S. Selective Service alongside their male counterparts. If the new draft bill passes, females who fail to register for the draft will be subject to substantial penalties, including being denied federal student financial aid, including Pell grants. Under current U.S. draft laws, males who fail to register for the draft are already subject to these penalties.

Any female in the United States who turned or turns 18 before January 1, 2018, will not be impacted if the bill passes.

Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, said that if women want to be considered for active combat military positions, registering for the draft as outlined under the new draft bill is the next logical step in achieving equality.

“The fact is, every single leader in this country, both men and women, members of the military leadership, believe that it’s fair since we opened up all aspects of the military to women that they would also be registering for Selective Services.”

Back in 1981, the U.S. Supreme Court unequivocally ruled that women in the United States did not have to register for the U.S. draft. This was because, at that time, women didn’t have active combat roles in the U.S. military, so they should not have to be held to the same requirements adhered to by men. However, that all changed in December, 2015, when Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter announced that all U.S. military combat jobs would now be open to women. Since that announcement, U.S. military officials have been pressuring Congress for a draft bill that would force women to sign up for the draft alongside their male counterparts.

“It’s my personal view, every American who’s physically qualified should register for the draft.”

The majority of the Republican senators in the U.S. Congress agree that women, if allowed to participate in active combat per their request, should be forced to register with the Selective Service under the draft bill. However, some of the most conservative in Congress have fought diligently against the draft bill.

Among those opposed to the new draft bill is former 2016 presidential candidate and current Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Last week, speaking of the new draft bill on the U.S. Senate floor, Cruz (father of two young girls), had plenty to say.

“The idea that we should forcibly conscript young girls in combat to my mind makes little sense at all.”

To Ted Cruz’s credit, when the vote for the new draft bill came around, he voted against it.

“I could not in good conscience vote to draft our daughters into the military, sending them off to war and forcing them into combat.”

Following its approval in the Senate, the new draft bill will now go to the House of Representatives. The new draft bill has some support there, but its future is uncertain.

[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

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