Senator Josh Hawley pledges to fight plan to force women into military service
A key Republican senator on Monday said he was stepping up his campaign to block a sweeping overhaul of military bills that would force first-time women to sign up for the military project.
Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri said Monday he was introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2022 that would remove the requirement for women to register with the Selective Service System, now hidden in the massive annual bill from the Pentagon.
“It is wrong to force our daughters, mothers, wives and sisters to wage our wars,” Mr Hawley said in a statement.
The issue proved more politically divisive for Republicans than for Democrats on the Hill, who mostly supported change. The Armed Services House and Senate panels in 2016 also approved extending the registration requirement to women, but the provision did not survive in the final bill, which is traditionally one of the most bipartisan actions taken by Congress each year.
Democratic Rep. Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania and her veteran Republican colleague Michael Waltz of Florida co-sponsored the amendment earlier this year during the House Bill committee’s markup.
But in July, Mr Hawley joined four Republican colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee to vote against requiring women to register. He recognized that women have played a vital role in the defense of America throughout the country’s history.
“Our country is extremely grateful to the courageous women who have volunteered to serve our country with and alongside our fighting forces,” he said. “But volunteering for military service is not the same as being forced into it, and no woman should be forced to do so.”
Oklahoma Senator James M. Inhofe, the former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and now its leading Republican member, joined Mr. Hawley in opposing the provision. Mr Inhofe is scheduled for a press briefing on Tuesday to discuss what he said are issues delaying adoption of this year’s NDAA.
Requiring women to register for conscription, however, enjoys bipartisan support, with supporters saying the time is right because all military jobs have been opened to them. According to the Pentagon, about one in seven members of the entire U.S. military force is female, and the Department of Defense lifted the ban on women occupying ground combat positions in December 2015.
U.S. military conscription was abolished in 1973, but American males must still register with the government when they turn 18 if conscription is reintroduced.
“I hope we will still have an all-volunteer force. However, I think women should enroll in selective service like their male counterparts, ”said Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican from Iowa who led army troops in Kuwait and Iraq before taking over. his retirement as a lieutenant colonel, at the Des Moines Register in 2016.
Lawmakers are acting on a March 2020 report by the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service established by Congress, which recommended that women be required to register and be eligible if the project is restored.
The 11-member panel “seriously examined a wide range of deeply felt moral, legal and practical arguments and explored the available empirical evidence,” the commission said in its final report.
“The commission concluded that the time has come to expand enrollment in the selective service system to include men and women, aged 18 to 26. This is a necessary and fair step in harnessing the talent of a unified nation in a time of national emergency.