The House Armed Services Committee voted to approve an amendment that would require women to register under the Selective Services Act (SSA).
The amendment, introduced by Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, passed 35-24 on Wednesday night. It will be included in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the omnibus package that funds the Department of Defense (DOD) and U.S. military.
A similar amendment passed the Senate Armed Services Committee in July. Republicans killed an effort to require women to register under the SSA in 2016, the last time Congress seriously considered amending it. (RELATED: Congress Abandons Plan To Force Women To Sign Up For Draft)
The NDAA passed out of the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday night, 42-17, and will now be considered by the full House. Although the NDAA also passed the Senate Armed Services Committee in July, neither chamber has fully approved the package.
I know it’s late, but I just finished defending my #NDAA amendment to include women in the military selective service system.
Simply put, as the selective service system is currently written it is unconstitutional and discriminates based on sex. pic.twitter.com/pxZ0NG5uLA
— Chrissy Houlahan (@RepHoulahan) September 2, 2021
“Women make up over 50 percent of our population, and not including them in the Selective Service is not only a disservice to these women, but also to our nation as a whole,” Houlahan said, adding that the SSA is “unconstitutional” because it “discriminates based on sex.”
Houlahan, an Air Force veteran, is a member of the Congressional Veterans Caucus.
The provision could galvanize Republican opposition to the NDAA.
“I support our military’s efforts to offer more opportunities for women who want to volunteer to serve,” Republican Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker told Roll Call in July, when the Senate amendment passed. “But when I think of my own daughters and granddaughters, I could not in good conscience support an amendment that would compel their military service.”
“We don’t need to draft women in order for women to have equality in this nation,” Republican Missouri Rep. Vicky Hartzler told Politico. “Women are of worth and of value right now and we are equal with men without having to pass a new law that would require 50 percent of this country — our daughters and our sisters and our wives — to have to be drafted.”
The U.S. military has not used a draft since 1973, when opposition to the Vietnam War made the process politically untenable. However, 18 year-olds are still required to register under the SSA, in case of a national emergency.
Republican Florida Rep. Mike Waltz, who supported the amendment, argued that if the DOD decided to bring back the draft, the U.S. military would need women to serve.
“If it’s so grave that we have to go to a draft, we need everybody,” he said. “We need man, woman, gay, straight, any religion, Black, white, brown. We need everybody, all hands on deck.”