Requirement for Women to Register for Military Draft Advances in House Panel Vote

A requirement for women to register for a possible military draft advanced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The House Armed Services Committee voted 35-24 to expand registration for the Selective Service System to women. Several Republicans joined Democrats in approving the provision.

The amendment was authored by Pennsylvania Democrat Chrissy Houlahan, a former Air Force veteran.

"I'm very pleased that our amendment passed with strong bipartisan support – an indicator that modernizing the Selective Service to keep up with the reality of today's military transcends party ideology," Houlahan told Newsweek. "It's time to change this discriminatory practice and make sure that all Americans know that in a time of crisis, women's skills and expertise will be essential to protecting our national security. The Senate has also included this provision in their bill, and I'm hopeful it will remain in the final version as negotiations continue."

The amendment is part of the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual defense budget bill. The House committee approved a $778 billion defense budget, which adds $25 billion to President Joe Biden's proposed Pentagon budget.

"The Armed Services Committee has a storied history of bipartisanship and that is no accident — the work is hard, and our disagreements can run deep," Democrat Adam Smith, chairman of the panel, said in a statement. "Democracy is not always easy but having a willing counterpart in the legislative process is critical to ensuring our military has the essential resources they need to combat threats at home and abroad."

House Panel Advances Women Military Draft Amendment
A requirement for women to register for the a possible military draft advanced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday. In this photo, female Marine recruits from Lima Company, the first gender-integrated training class in San Diego, hydrate and eat oranges after the final part of phase three of recruit training on April 22, 2021 at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, California. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

A similar provision requiring women to register for the draft was adopted by the Senate Armed Services Committee in July. The upper chamber's version of the defense budget is currently awaiting a full floor vote.

The U.S. military hasn't implemented a draft since the Vietnam War. More than 1.8 million men were inducted during the nine-year war. The last man drafted entered the U.S. Army on June 30, 1973.

Only men between the ages of 18 and 25 are currently required to register for the draft, though women have been serving at all levels of the military since 2013.

"Women make up over fifty percent of the population, and not including them in the Selective Service is not only a disservice to these women, but also to our nation as a whole," Houlahan said in a statement prior to the vote.

Florida Representative Mike Waltz, one of the Republicans to support the amendment adding women to the draft, said Wednesday that the U.S. will need more recruits if there's a situation that warrants the use of the Selective Service System

"Whatever the emergency is, if it's so great that we have to go to a draft, we need everybody," Waltz said, according to the Military Times. "We need men, women, gay, straight, any religion, Black, white, brown. We need all hands on deck."

Update (9/1/2021, 1:30 p.m. ET): This story has been updated with comment from Representative Houlahan.