Home News Congress to drop plan requiring women to register for draft

Congress to drop plan requiring women to register for draft

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Sgt. Ashley Mohr, a drill instructor with Platoon 4039, Oscar Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, ensures her recruits have their valuables Sept. 17, 2014, on Parris Island, S.C. Drill instructors ensure all recruits and their equipment are accounted for at the end of the day. Mohr is a 27-year-old native of Salamanca, N.Y. Oscar Company is scheduled to graduate Nov. 7, 2014. Parris Island has been the site of Marine Corps recruit training since Nov. 1, 1915. Today, approximately 20,000 recruits come to Parris Island annually for the chance to become United States Marines by enduring 13 weeks of rigorous, transformative training. Parris Island is home to entry-level enlisted training for 50 percent of males and 100 percent of females in the Marine Corps. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple)
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple)

WASHINGTON — House and Senate negotiators reached agreement Tuesday on a sweeping defense policy bill that rejects a plan to force to register for a military , a victory for social conservatives who decried the move as another step toward the blurring of gender lines.

The $611 billion bill, which authorizes spending for military programs, also hands Democrats a win: Lawmakers struck a provision that liberals said would undercut protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual or gender orientation.

Congressional staff briefed reporters on the legislation, which has not been released. The staffers were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

A vote in the House on the defense bill is expected by Friday, followed by action in the Senate next week.

The must-pass policy legislation may trigger a veto threat from President Barack Obama over language that bars closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and forbids the Pentagon from beginning a new round of military base closings. The bill also mandates a pay raise for service members larger than the one the Obama administration proposed and stops further reductions in the numbers of active-duty troops.

Lawmakers had worked for weeks to resolve differences in separate versions of the policy bills passed by the House and Senate. The House, for example, wanted to shift $18 billion from the emergency wartime spending account to pay for additional weapons and combat gear the Pentagon didn’t request.

The negotiators elected instead to boost the wartime account, which isn’t constrained by mandatory budget limits, by $3.2 billion to help halt a decline in the military’s ability to respond to global threats. The decision may have been motivated by President-elect Donald Trump’s assurances that he would increase defense spending, adding tens of thousands more troops and investing in new warships and jet fighters.

The legislation also includes the $5.8 billion in additional war-related funding Obama requested earlier this month. The so-called supplemental includes $2.5 billion to maintain elevated U.S. troops levels of 8,400 in Afghanistan as announced over the summer. About $383 million would pay for air strikes against Islamic State militants.

Requiring to sign up for a possible roiled conservatives, who argued the country wasn’t ready for such a dramatic change in policy without an open and extended debate.

A provision in the Senate version of the policy bill would have ordered to sign up with the Selective Service within 30 days of turning 18 — just as men are — starting in January 2018. But the House refused to go along. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Rules Committee, spoke for a number of Republicans when he described the provision as “coercing America’s daughters” into registration.

But proponents of including viewed the requirement as a sensible step toward gender equality. They pointed to the Pentagon’s decision last year to open all front-line combat jobs to as removing any justification for gender restrictions on registration.

After the military services were ordered to integrate into combat jobs, the top uniformed officers in each of the military branches expressed support during congressional testimony for including in a pool. Military leaders maintain the all-volunteer force is working and oppose a return to conscription.

The U.S. has not had a military since 1973, in the waning years of the Vietnam War era. Still, young men between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register with the Selective Service, the independent federal agency that manages the registration.

Democrats had just as vigorously opposed a measure in the House version of the legislation known as the Russell amendment, named after its author, Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla. They called the provision dangerous and insisted it be removed.

The amendment is brief and requires any U.S. government office to provide protections and exemptions “to any religious corporation, religious association, religious educational institution, or religious society that is a recipient of or offeror” for a federal contract.

A group of Senate Democrats wrote in a letter last month that the provision would amount to government-sponsored discrimination by permitting religiously affiliated federal contractors to refuse to interview a job candidate whose faith differs from theirs and to fire employees who marry their same-sex partners or use birth control.

But Republicans dismissed those concerns. They cast the measure as a safeguard for religious liberty that merely builds on existing law by ensuring that faith-based organizations that perform work for the U.S. government aren’t forced to act against their beliefs.

By Richard Lardner

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Good! It’s insane to tear young mothers from their children and daughters from their fathers’ homes against their will to go fight the kinds of monsters we war against. And if they’re married, their husbands would probably either feel compelled to try to offer their own selves in place of their wives for the draft or take their wives and run with them to spare them, thereby becoming draft dodgers. If brave women want to volunteer to be a part of the fighting force of the Marines and the other branches, then great, but being drafted is something else.

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