In spite of opposition from conservative lawmakers, the United States Senate approved on Tuesday, June 14 a provision that would require women for the first time in history to sign up for the Selective Service System and potentially be drafted into the military.
The amendment, which is part of an expansive military spending bill, reflects the acceptance of the role of women in the armed forces and the acknowledgment of their contributions.
The National Defense Authorization Act passed 85-13 with a minority of vocal Republican senators expressing opposition to the provision about women and the draft.
If enacted as legislation, females turning 18 years old on or after January 1, 2018, would have to sign up for the Selective Service System as males currently do. If they failed to sign, women could lose certain federal benefits such Pell grants or federal employment opportunities. The list would be activated only in case of a national emergency.
However, the future of this bill is not clear since the White House has threatened to veto the defense bill due to other provisions.
In recent years, the Pentagon has dropped barriers to female service members participating in combat roles, and the inclusion of the female draft provision seems a natural path to many.
The passage of this bill does not mean that women will be automatically conscripted into combat, but they can be called to serve in different capacities if the country requires their participation.
The Selective Service System is a federal government program that maintains contact information for young males living in the U.S. who could potentially be drafted into the military in situations of national emergency.
Male undocumented immigrants, DACA recipient’s, and others who are between 18 to 25 years old are also required to sign up for the Selective Service System. If this bill passes, all females, regardless of the legal situation, will also be required to register.
Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund will keep you updated on this and other developments.