US military draft: Bill would require women to register for Selective Service

Last week, the House of Representatives passed an updated version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which allows the U.S. government to automatically register men ages 18 to 25 into the Selective Service, or draft system.

While it hasn’t been invoked in over half a century, it’s mandatory for all male U.S. citizens to register for the selective service, also known as the military draft, when they turn 18. Failure to register is classified as a felony and comes with a host of legal challenges.

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The law currently requires that only men register with Selective Service. In the event that the law is changed to include registering women, "Selective Service is prepared to expand registration," the website reads.

The Senate Armed Forces Committee has since created their version of the NDAA where the draft eligibility would be extended to women. The proposal to have women register for the draft is not included in the House’s version of the bill.

Some experts say it's "necessary and fair to make the draft talent unified in the event of a national emergency." 

The bill has garnered mixed reactions. 

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"We're talking about involuntarily drafting women. I'm totally opposed to that. I'm also worried about the expansion of the draft," said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo). 

"This is not about combat. It is about their opportunity to serve. The House version of the bill does not include drafting women, but it would automatically register men to keep them from skipping out," said Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn).

The bill was approved in the committee by a 22-3 vote Friday. It now advances to the Senate for consideration. The bill will then need to be approved by both the Senate and the House and be presented to the president for signing.

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Congress and the president can reinstate the draft and force male citizens to serve in the military in the event of a national emergency or war that all-volunteer military can't adequately support.

The most recent draft in the U.S. was held in 1973 during the Vietnam War.