US Senate passes bill making Draft mandatory for women

16 June 2016

The National Defense Authorisation Act passed 85-13 on Tuesday, despite some protests from Republican senators who were against the inclusion of women for the military draft, which is also known as the Selective Service system.

Under the Senate bill, women who are turning 18 years old on or after 1 January 2018 will be forced to register for Selective Service, just like men.

According to CNN, Senator Ted Cruz was against the bill and slammed it last week during a Senate session, calling it ''a radical departure from American history''.

''The idea that we should forcibly conscript young girls into combat to my mind makes little or no sense,'' Cruz said.

However, Senator John McCain, who is the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, disagreed with Cruz's sentiments and said that it's ''simply fair'' to include women in the draft.

''Every uniform leader of the United States military seemed to have a different opinion from the senator from Texas, whose military background is not extensive,'' McCain, who served in the Navy and was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, countered against Cruz, who has never served in the military.

The $602-billion defence bill still needs to go ''through a reconciliation process with a different House version of the legislation'', CNN reported.

The major policy change does have support in the House, though, it wasn't included in the version of the bill for that chamber.

It's now expected that a debate the two versions of the bill will be reconciled in a conference committee between the Senate and the House.

''It may well be a topic of great controversy,'' Senator Richard Blumenthal, who serves on the Armed Services Committee, said. ''But it should not be.''

According to The New York Times, in 1981 the Supreme Court ruled that women didn't have to register for the draft. The reasoning was that women shouldn't face the same requirements as men because they did not participate on the front lines of combat.

But female service members no longer face any barriers when they participate in combat roles, thanks to a move by the Pentagon opening all military roles.

Since Defence Secretary Ashton Carter voiced to make the move in December, military officials suggested to Congress that women should sign up for the draft.

In February, two high level military officials voiced their support to have women included in the draft.

The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen Robert Neller, and the chief of staff of the Army, Gen Mark Milley, both supported the inclusion of women in the Selective Service, especially since combat roles are now open to both sexes.

First attempt in 1862

In 1862 during the height of the Civil War, the United States first attempted the requirement for mandatory military service.

The draft was reinstated during both of the World Wars, and a modern system was established during the Cold War in 1948.

During the Vietnam War, the draft was very unpopular until the end of the United States involvement there in 1973.

In 1980, the system was reinstated not long after the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union.

The Selective Service system maintains contact information for Americans who are eligible to serve in the military.

''Almost all male US citizens and male immigrants, who are 18 through 25, are required to register with Selective Service,'' according to the Selective Service website.

The mission for Selective Service is to ''furnish manpower to the Defense Department during a national emergency''.

People can face an adverse effect if they are seeking student loans or federal employment if they have not registered for Selective Service, as it is illegal.

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