Two lawmakers introduced legislation that could in a matter of months require women to register for the draft.
Reps. Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.), a Marine Corps veteran, and Ryan Zinke (R., Mt.), a former Navy SEAL commander, introduced the legislation Thursday after military leaders indicated their support for requiring women to register for the Selective Service.
In announcing the bill, Hunter blamed the Obama administration’s "irresponsible" decision to open up all combat jobs to women for forcing the debate about women and the draft.
"If this administration wants to send 18-20-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 in a statement. "This discussion should have occurred before decision-making of any type, but the fact that it didn’t now compels Congress to take an honest and thorough look at the issue."
"It’s unfortunate that a bill like this even needs to be introduced," the congressman added. "And it’s legislation that I might very well vote against should it be considered during the annual defense authorization process."
The bill, "Draft America’s Daughters Act of 2016," would amend the Military Selective Service Act to apply to female citizens and residents of the United States ages 18 to 26. It would require women to register for the Selective Service no less than 90 days after the measure is enacted or 90 days after Defense Secretary Ash Carter officially certifies to Congress that all combat jobs are open to women.
Carter ordered the military to open up all combat jobs to women in December, rejecting a request from the former Marine commandant to keep certain ground combat jobs closed to female service members.
Carter appeared to disregard a Marine Corps study showing that women performed significantly worse than men in combat operations, Hunter said Thursday. The Pentagon chief also did not appear to take into account a survey showing that U.S. special operations forces widely oppose the integration of women into combat jobs.
"The administration made its decision to open all combat specialties without regard for the research and perspective of the Marine Corps and special operations community, or without consideration or care for whether the draft would have to be opened to both men and women," Hunter stated.
Earlier this week, the chiefs of the Army and Marine Corps delivered testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee during which they expressed their support for opening the draft up to women following Carter’s decision.
"Now that the restrictions that exempted women from that don’t exist, then you’re a citizen of a United States," Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine commandant, told the Washington Post following the hearing Tuesday. "It doesn’t mean you’re going to serve, but you go register."
The following day, Carter told reporters that expected Congress to consider requiring women to register for the draft, The Hill reported.
"It stands to reason it’ll be taken up by the Congress because of the decision we’ve made," Carter said.