WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stressed today that he favors making women eligible for a military draft the day after Republicans in the House pulled the amendment from the defense reauthorization bill.
The House amendment was introduced, but not supported by, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) as a means to put members on the record about whether women should be required to register for Selective Service.
“If this administration wants to send 18- to 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,” Hunter said while introducing his amendment as standalone legislation in February after the Pentagon announced it would open combat roles to qualified women.
House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) introduced an amendment Monday ahead of the full House markup to pull the language from the defense bill.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told reporters on the Hill today that there hasn’t been a congressional review of the Selective Service system since 1994 and “we need to ask the big questions and figure out whether we need it.”
“The second issue is this got very complex with scoring. So it costs some money on discretionary spending to register women… if you register women, it saves money on mandatory spending because fewer of them will be eligible for student financial aid,” Thornberry said. “And under our cut-go rules, we couldn’t even debate an amendment to take that out, which left us in an impossible position where you had an issue members could not even debate or change.”
Outside of a closed policy luncheon on Capitol Hill, McConnell said the Senate version of the defense bill will be open for amendments.
“My personal view is given where we are today, I don’t anticipate a draft, but if you’re talking about registering for the Selective Service System, I think since women are serving in the military, they should be eligible to be in Selective Service themselves. That’s my view… Required, I suppose. We’ll see,” McConnell said.
“I don’t anticipate going back to the draft. The professional voluntary Army has been very successful. We’re talking here about registration for Selective Service, should we ever go back to a draft. And given where we are today, with women in the military performing virtually all kinds of functions, I personally think it would be appropriate for them to register just like men do.”