U.S. women may soon be required to register for the military draft when they reach the age of 18.
The Senate passed a $602 billion defense bill Tuesday that would make it compulsory for young women to be available for Selective Service.
The National Defense Authorization Act was overwhelmingly approved by 85 votes to 13, although some Republicans vehemently opposed the draft amendment.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz last week branded the notion of conscription for woman as “a radical departure.”
After voting against it on Tuesday, he explained: “I could not in good conscience vote to draft our daughters into the military, sending them off to war and forcing them into combat.”
But the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, described the move as “simply fair” now that the Pentagon has opened all military roles to women.
“Every uniform leader of the United States military seemed to have a different opinion from the senator from Texas, whose military background is not extensive,” McCain declared.
Cruz never served in the military, unlike McCain who was a naval aviator and prisoner of war in Vietnam.
The Pentagon in 2013 ended restrictions on female service members participating in combat roles.
“It’s my personal view,” Gen. Robert B. Neller, the commandant of the , told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February, that with the complete lifting of the ban on women in combat roles, “every American who’s physically qualified should register for the draft.”
The United States has not used conscription since 1973 during the Vietnam War.
Under the Senate bill passed on Tuesday, women turning 18 on or after Jan. 1, 2018, would be forced to register for Selective Service, as men must do now.
Failure to do so is illegal and can have adverse effects for people seeking federal employment or student loans.
Because the policy would not apply to women who turned 18 before 2018, it would not affect current aid arrangements.
Selective Service, was reinstated in 1980 following the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Its mission is to “furnish manpower to the Defense Department during a national emergency.”
According to the Selective Service website, “Almost all male U.S. citizens and male immigrants, who are 18 through 25, are required to register with Selective Service.”
The Pentagon has never called for compulsory conscription to be reinstated.