April 2016 – WASHINGTON – House lawmakers took a large step toward putting female soldiers on the front lines on Wednesday, approving legislation requiring women to register for the draft. Members of the House Armed Services committee passed the measure as part of the panel’s version of the defense spending bill for fiscal year 2017, according to the Associated Press.
After a lengthy, and at times heated debate, the legislation only passed by a slim two vote margin with the bill’s main sponsor California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter actually voting against the measure during the House defense spending bill markup on Wednesday. Hunter, along with former SEAL and Montana Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke, initially proposed the plan to require women to register for the draft in February, shortly after the Pentagon lifted its ban on female service members from serving in combat infantry units and special operations forces.
“It’s wrong and irresponsible to make wholesale changes to the way America fights its wars without the American people having a say on whether their daughters and sisters will be on the front lines of combat,” Hunter said at the time. But on Wednesday, Hunter attempted unsuccessfully to sway committee members from backing the legislation, telling the House panel that the draft “is there to put bodies on the front lines to take the hill. The draft is there to get more people to rip the enemies’ throats out and kill them.”
It remains to be seen whether the House measure will be included in the final version of the defense spending bill that will be sent to the White House. However, California Democrat Rep. Jackie Spier, who voted in favor of the bill, said the legislation was a positive step toward gender equality in the military. “If we want equality in this country, if we want women to be treated precisely like men are treated and that they should not be discriminated against, we should be willing to support a universal conscription,” she said, according to the Associated Press. –Washington Post