On Wednesday, Senators in the Senate Armed Services Committee approved a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This makes it mandatory for women between the ages of 18 to 25 to sign up just like men do, with Selective Service. The Act was passed 23-3. Three conservatives voted against the NDAA.
The three senators who voted against the draft were
- Tom Cotton — Republican from Arkansas
- Josh Hawley — Republican from Missouri
- Elisabeth Warren — Democrat from Massachusetts
Many other Republicans and conservative social media personalities commented adversely against drafting women compulsorily even commenting that there were enough men in America to fight wars, if necessary.
Gretchen Smith, a female veteran said that she had served and called it her best decision. She also said that if women wanted equal rights “this is it” and added “no complaints.”
The Selective Service Register is a federal agency. It maintains a registry of all men across the nation who are eligible for military conscription, if there is a national emergency. There are penalties for those who fail to register on their 18th birthday. Some of them include:
- denial of public benefits including federal employment and student loans
- a fine of up to $250,000
- five years in prison.
This is one of the very few federal agencies where there is unequal treatment between men and women. Women’s groups believe that there is a need to bring in change. So, far it has been elusive.
Last month, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case that was filed by the National Coalition for Men. They had challenged the male only draft. Other lawsuits have called the draft law unconstitutional.
Right from 2016, the Senate, then under Senate Armed Services Chief, John McCain had voted to make a change and include women in the draft despite conservative opposition and the fight is still on.
There are many more controversial issues to be considered by the Senate Armed Services Committee in the military including sexual assault and extremism.