The Senate Armed Services Committee has proposed the 2022 defense policy bill. The main change within the bill is that it would require women to register for the draft known as the Selective Service System.
Congress has been contemplating the idea of drafting women in the service. However, the change has never survived negotiations over the annual defense policy bill.
Since restrictions were lifted, allowing women to serve in combat arms in 2015, lawmakers have argued that they should register. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court decided not to hear a case regarding this issue. The justices agreed with the U.S. solicitor general’s argument that Congress should determine the matter, not the courts.
The United States dismantled the draft in 1973 but continued the Selective Service System in case of a national emergency. All male American citizens ages 18 to 26 are required to register.
In April 2021, legislation was introduced to abolish the Selective Service System entirely, calling the $25 million annual cost to run it a waste.
“Congress hasn’t come close to reinstating a military draft in 50 years, and I can’t imagine a scenario where it would,” said Sen. Ron Wyden.
“It has been nearly 50 years since the draft was last used… I’ve long stated that if a war is worth fighting, Congress will vote to declare it, and people will volunteer. This outdated government program no longer serves a purpose and should be eliminated permanently,” added Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
The Senate Armed Services Committee proposed $740 billion defense policy bill also includes a change that would require the Pentagon to engage in mobilization exercises every five years to test the Selective Service System’s processes. This includes how it would enlist personnel into the military services in a national emergency.