Women between the ages of 18 and 25 won’t be required to register for the draft — at least for the next year. That’s because House Republicans on Tuesday stripped a provision from an annual defense bill that would’ve mandated young women to register with the Selective Service. By law, all men between the ages of 18 and 25 must register with the Selective Service. U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, one of the provision’s chief critics, denounced it as “reckless policy” and called for further studies into the impact such a requirement might have. “I have the utmost respect and deepest appreciation for the young women who bravely volunteer to serve our country, but I am adamantly opposed to coercing America’s daughters to sign up for the Selective Service at 18 years of age,” Sessions said. Last month, the House Armed Services committee approved the provision in a narrowly decided vote. The effort to require women to register for the draft came in response to the Pentagon’s decision to lift gender restrictions on all military units, and was proposed by a Congressman and former Marine who opposed gender parity in across the entire military.
Former presidential candidate Ted Cruz, a U.S. Senator from Texas, was one of the most vocal critics of the idea, which he said was “nuts” earlier this year. Many conservatives view the idea of mandating young women to register for the draft as blurring of the gender lines, and some even question whether the notion of the Selective Service and a military draft are antiquated. Notably, other GOP presidential also-rans, including Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, all indicated that they supported the provision. The U.S. has not held a military draft since 1973, in the latter years of the Vietnam War, but debate around the issue is expected to continue.
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