Senate Democrats propose a rewrite to current draft laws, requiring women to register for the draft

Senate Democrats are proposing a rewrite to military draft laws in order to require women to register for the Selective Service System, according to a draft authored by Senate Armed Services Chair Jack Reed and obtained by POLITICO.

The changes to Selective Service could be attached to the National Defense Authorization Act, a defense policy bill that’s one of the few pieces of legislation considered a “must-pass” by Congress. The language proposed by Reed (D-R.I.) would expand registration for the service to “All Americans.” Currently, law states that men must register for the draft when they turn 18, though no one has been drafted into the military in more than four decades.

Men who fail to register for the draft can be fined, imprisoned or denied federal jobs. The bill is expected to be considered during committee markup this week; floor action on the bill would wait until later this year. Calls to expand the draft to include women have grown in recent years, particularly after the Pentagon opened all combat roles to women in 2015. Multiple lawsuits have taken aim at the current draft law, alleging it’s unconstitutional.

Reed said during a March hearing on the panel’s findings that he hoped the changes would “in large part” be included in the upcoming defense bill. The draft language is just one of several contentious issues expected to be considered by the Senate Armed Services Committee. In addition, senators are expected to debate a bid by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to reform the treatment of military sexual assault and extremism in the military [POLITICO].



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