Congress to Consider Forcing Women to Join the Draft

By: David Donovan | Published: Jun 21, 2024

Congress is again reflecting on a recommendation that would compel women to sign up for the military draft in a landmark decision.

However, despite the fact that the proposed policy is included in the 2025 National Defense Authorization Act, which was approved by a crucial Senate committee last week, members of the far-right have expressed concern about it.

Hawley’s Reservations

For instance, Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley criticized the measure to give women the same rights as men, calling it yet another “woke” decision for the nation’s military.

Advertisement
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan, speaks with Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri

Flickr user Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

According to Hawley in Fox News: “We need to get reality back in check here. There shouldn’t be women in the draft. They shouldn’t be forced to serve if they don’t want to.”

Advertisement

McConnell’s Backing

However, the bill has been supported by Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and more moderate Republicans like Alaskan Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Maine Sen. Susan Collins. 

Advertisement
President Donald J. Trump celebrates the passage of the Tax Cuts Act with Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan

Flickr user The White House

According to the New York Times, Collins said that the change “seems logical.”

Current Law

Currently, the law requires nearly all men between the ages of 18 and 25 to register with Selective Service, the organization that manages the databases for the draft.

Advertisement
gray and brown camouflage nutshell helmet on table

Unsplash user israel palacio

Most states consequently register those qualified when they get their driver’s permit or apply to college.

Compliance Rate

This tactic has kept the program’s compliance rate afloat and put over 15 million men on the lists. Just under 85% of those are actually qualified to serve.

Advertisement
soldiers in truck with view of their backs from the side of the truck

Unsplash user Diego González

According to the Selective Service System website, refusing to register for the draft has significant consequences, including a felony charge that could result in a substantial fine and a five-year prison sentence.

Selective Service

According to the website, “Unless a man provides proof that he is exempt from the registration requirement, his failure to register will result in referral to the Department of Justice for possible investigation and prosecution.”

Soldiers dressed in army camouflage march in formation.

Unsplash user Filip Andrejevic

Notwithstanding the number of enrolled men, the rate at which they really volunteer for the military has fallen even more, as per the Defense Department, as under 1% of American adults serve in active duty combat jobs.

Advertisement

Female Eligibility

Since 2016, women have been permitted to serve in all aspects of the military, including combat roles.

man walking on brown grass field wearing camouflage

Unsplash user Specna Arms

That change settled a moot 1981 High Court choice that observed that restricting women from forced service was alright, as the draft was intended to fill military combat jobs – something women wouldn’t have the option to accomplish for an additional 35 years.

Advertisement

Congressional Debate

The issue has been the subject of ongoing debate in Congress ever since women were included in combat roles. 

man in green and brown camouflage uniform holding rifle

Unsplash user Simon Infanger

Military specialists testifying before Congress have over and over said that enrolling women for the draft would be “in the national security interest of the United States.”

Advertisement

Abandoning Plans

Be that as it may, the thought has been pushed consistently in Congress for years, legislators have deserted such plans every single time.

man in camouflage jacket and brown knit cap standing on top of mountain during daytime

Unsplash user Norbert Buduczki

Additionally, conservatives who have consistently opposed the measure and others of its kind are currently attempting to remove that wording from the annual defense authorization bill to which it is attached.

Advertisement

Hawley’s Efforts

Hawley, who led efforts to remove the clause from the same bill in 2021 and 2022, said on Fox News on Thursday that “normal people are like, ‘Leave our daughters alone'” when Democrats allegedly tried to experiment with the military.

S. Sen. Josh Hawley speaks to leaders from St. Joseph and the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Master Sgt. Michael Crane

This repeats his 2021 remarks, where he said Missourians felt “strongly that compelling women to fight our wars is wrong, and so do I.”

Advertisement

Republican Division

“​It’s one thing to allow American women to choose this service, but it’s quite another to force it upon our daughters, sisters, and wives,” according to Hawley

Joni Ernst speaking at CPAC 2016 in Washington, D.C.

Gage Skidmore

Congress dropped the language from the bill that December — despite the fact that high-profile Republicans like McConnell and Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa conservative and military veteran, upheld it. 

Advertisement

Opposition and Confusion

Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi, stated that he was “opposed to that” and would attempt to veto the provision this time around.

U.S. Senator Roger F. Wicker meets with U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi in the Dirksen Senate Office building.

Office of U.S. Senator Roger F. Wicker

He stated: “I don’t think this is the time to get into a debate on the floor of either house about that. We’re not anywhere near implementing a draft, and to me, it’s a distraction when we need to be talking about real issues that are immediate.”

However, some Democrats, such as Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, stated that the GOP’s refusal to approve the proposal “doesn’t make any sense.” 

Advertisement