Women might be forced to sign up with the US military draft by 1 January 2018 if government approves a new proposal from the armed services committee, moving one step closer to ensuring both genders would be subject to serve during war.
“Because the Department of Defense has lifted the ban on women serving in ground combat units, the committee believes there is no further justification in limiting the duty to register under the Military Selective Service Act to men,” the bill summary read.
“Furthermore, each uniformed chief of the services testified to their personal support of including women in the requirement to register for selective service."
The last military draft in the US was in 1973 during the Vietnam War era, but all men are required by law to sign up with Selective Service within 30 days of turning 18.
Women have never been conscripted or required to sign up to the Selective Service, which is an independent agency that logs information on those potentially subject to conscription.
A return to conscription is unlikely as most military leaders believe the all-volunteer force is working.
Although the proposal has been approved by the Senate, a lively debate is expected when the Draft America’s Daughters Act is considered in the full Senate and House.
The White House declined to comment on whether President Barack Obama would sign the Act into law.
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In 2015 the Pentagon announced that all military jobs must be open to women, including ground combat roles.
The amendment requiring women to register with the Selective Service was proposed by Californian Republican congressman Duncan Hunter in order to force a discussion about how the Pentagon’s decision to make all military jobs open to women failed to consider whether women should also be drafted in war.
“It’s wrong and irresponsible to make wholesale changes to the way America fights its wars without the American people having a say on whether their daughters and sisters will be on the front lines of combat,” said Mr Hunter on his website.
“If this Administration wants to send 18-20 year old women into combat, to serve and fight on the front lines, then the American people deserve to have this discussion through their elected representatives.”
He said he believes most American do not want women to be drafted. Despite his views, he proposed and then voted against the measure. It was passed in April by 23-3.
“This is a highly consequential – and, for many American families, a deeply controversial – decision that deserves to be resolved by Congress after a robust and transparent debate in front of the American people, instead of buried in an embargoed document that is passed every year to fund military pay and benefits,” said Utah Republican senator Mike Lee, who voted against the policy bill.
Senator John McCain said on social media he was “very proud” to sign the bill, which also covers the military budget for the fiscal year of 2017.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.Reuse content