Two months after the Defense Department opened combat jobs to women, a House panel has voted to also require women to register for the draft. The measure will be debated by Congress in the fall, in what promises to be a very calm and wholly rational continued discussion about the role of women in the military.
The Washington Post reports that the measure passed Wednesday night through the House Armed Services Committee, part of a yearly defense budget called the National Defense Authorization Act. It was introduced by Congressman Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California who’s also a former Marine; he served three tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. But Hunter doesn’t actually support drafting women and wanted everyone to vote against the thing he introduced. From the Post:
“Right now the draft is sexist,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who filed an amendment to the House’s annual defense authorization bill to require women between the ages of 18 and 26 to register for the Selective Service, the government agency that keeps records of who is eligible to be conscripted.
Hunter, who is against the Obama administration’s recent policy change allowing women to serve in all combat roles, said he only proposed the measure to start a discussion about the draft. He voted against his own amendment, arguing that anyone who favored it would be siding with the administration.
“The draft is there to get more people to rip the enemy’s throats out,” Hunter said, according to the Hill. “I don’t want to see my daughters put in a place where they have to get drafted.”
Hunter’s curious tactic failed when the Armed Services Committee approved the measure 32-30.
“If we want equality in this country, if we want women to be treated precisely like men are treated and that they should not be discriminated against, then we should support a universal conscription,” said Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California. (In a separate amendment, Speier is also pushing to make sure that transgender veterans can change their names on discharge documents.)
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a U.S. Army veteran who also served in Iraq, voted for the bill but said she found it “misguided,” according to the Post: “I would much rather have someone who I know wants to be there, someone who is trained, who is highly capable and who is a professional warrior, to have my back.”
The idea of re-instituting a draft is, of course, a pretty unlikely prospect in itself; two Colorado Congressmen, both Republicans, have pushed to abolish the selective service entirely, saying, like Gabbard, that a voluntary military service is a better idea. (One of them, Mike Coffman of Aurora, also said Wednesday that he doubted today’s young people were fit to serve, because so many of them are overweight, emotionally troubled or drug addicts.)
The full House is expected to vote on the broader defense authorization bill in May; it’ll then have to pass the Senate.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Image via AP.