Women may be required to register for the draft as soon as 2018.
The Senate on Tuesday voted 85 to13 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act, which included a provision requiring women who turn 18 after January 2018 to sign up for the draft. The New York Times reported that not registering could stop women from being able to access federal aid such as Pell grants.
The provision–supported by both Republicans and Democrats– would be a major step forward for women's participation in the military, the next frontier after women fought to serve in combat roles.
However, differences with the House of Representatives over the issue could bring Congress to a standstill and stall the appropriations process. The House had originally included the provision in their underlying military spending bill after Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) introduced it to make a point against women serving in combat roles (he never supported it). It passed in the committee, but the provision was stripped out of the bill by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) in the House Rules Committee before it went to the floor.
"I regretfully introduce this amendment," Hunter said at the time he introduced it. "My daughters talk about serving. My son talks about serving, but I don't want to put my daughters in a place where they have to get drafted."
Many of the top Republicans in the Senate supported extending the draft to women, arguing it was just the next way to expand opportunities for women in the military. Both Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have been on the record in support.
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