Conservatives declare a victory for US military as national defense bill is finalized

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The final version of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act will not include a provision requiring America’s daughters and young mothers to register for the draft.

Opponents led by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) managed to get the provision stricken from the final package put forth by the House and Senate armed services committees that would have required women 18 and older to register with the Selective Service System, as men have been required to do since the 1970s after Congress ended a mandatory draft.

Politico first reported the development, citing two people familiar with the situation.

“The move is a victory for conservatives who fought to strip the provision. Earlier attempts to kill the proposal came up short because lawmakers from both parties supported including women in the draft. Expanding Selective Service has gained momentum since all combat roles in the military were opened to women,” the outlet reported.

Eliminating the requirement may also upset Democrats “already on edge over what may not make the cut,” Politico added, noting further that Congressional Black Caucus members in the House have threatened to withhold their support if the NDAA does not contain measures to drastically overhaul how the military prosecutes felonies as well as combatting alleged extremism.

Usually, when both chambers approve a measure it becomes law as both parties work out details of the NDAA, so dropping the women draft requirement is a rarity. However, Politico reported that it may have been scrapped as a means of getting Republicans to agree to other provisions sought by Democrats.

That said, one source told Politico that the draft requirement was dropped to get GOP support for military justice reforms.

Hawley noted on Twitter Monday that, if the requirement were to make it to the final bill, he “will continue to insist on a vote on the Senate floor to strike the provision.”

Another Missouri conservative, Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who also opposed the requirement, praised its removal, noting that she saw it as “imposing a woke ideology on our troops rather than meeting the current needs of our military.”

“Women are not chess pieces in a political game. They are doctors, lawyers, engineers and already valuable members of our all-volunteer force,” she added. “I applaud the removal of this unnecessary provision and am grateful to see reasonable minds come together to join me in resisting this effort.”

Calls have increased in recent years to include women in the draft after the Pentagon in 2015 opened up all combat roles to females. Last year, an 11-member independent panel recommended a provision be put in the 2021 NDAA.

Other measures failed to make the final cut as well, including a push to rein in war powers. For example, provisions to repeal authorizations for the 1991 Gulf War and 2002 Iraq war did not receive enough support to be included.

That said, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) promised a war powers vote this year, but the Senate’s schedule may not permit that to happen.

Jon Dougherty

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