Two Republican lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday requiring women to register for the draft – in a move meant to take the decision out of the hands of the military so it can be debated in Congress.
Reps. Duncan Hunter of California and Ryan Zinke of Montana said their joint legislation is aimed at provoking a fuller discussion of the Pentagon’s decision to open all combat jobs to women. Top generals for the Army and Marines said earlier this week that women should be required to register for the draft now that combat jobs are being opened to them.
“If this administration wants to send 18, 20-year-old women into combat, to serve and fight on the front lines, then the American people deserve to have this discussion through their elected representatives,” Hunter said in a statement.
Hunter and Zinke, both veterans, say the decision to open the combats jobs ignores research from the Marine Corps and special operations forces. They also say the decision was made without considering whether women should be drafted and potentially serve on the front lines.
“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.
The U.S. military has been an all-volunteer force since the 1970s, but young men must register for the Selective Service in case the draft is reactivated.
Under Hunter and Zinke's bill, women between the ages of 18 and 26 would be required to register either 90 days after the enactment of the legislation or 90 days after the defense secretary certifies to Congress that all combat specialties are open to women.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.