Wednesday, 27 April 2016
House Committee votes to extend draft registration to women
Today the House Armed Service Committee voted 32 to 30 to attach an amendment to the pending annual military spending authorization bill that would give the President the authority to order women as well as men to register for the draft.
[Update: I still haven't found a full record of the roll-call the vote. But according to this later report, Republican members of the committee present and voting opposed the amendment, 29-6. Democrats present and voting supported the amendment, 26-1.]
What does this mean? What happens now? What can we do about it? Read on.
What will happen next?
The bill which now includes the provision on women and draft registration will go to the House floor for debate and possibly for floor votes on more amendments before it is approved by the House. It's not yet clear whether any member of the House will try to get a vote by the full House on whether to remove the provision on women and draft registration.
The bill to which this provision has been attached, H.R. 4909, the "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017", is certain to be approved. So the only question is whether this particular provision will remain in the version of the bill eventually approved by the full House, and whether the Senate will also approve it.
Because this is considered a "must-pass" bill, the provision on women and draft registration is now very likely to become law unless it is removed by another amendment during consideration of the bill by the full House, before the bill as amended is approved, or unless the Senate refuses to adopt a similar provision or agree to the House version.
The text of the amendment now attached to the defense authorization bill is identical to that of a proposal that was introduced in March 2016 as H.R. 4478, the "Draft America's Daughters Act of 2016". But as a separate bill, it might never have been considered or voted on, even in committee, much less reported to the floor or put to a vote of the full House. An amendment attached to a "must-pass" bill has a much better chance of passage, more quickly, with less debate, than a standalone bill.
Will there be public hearings on this proposal?
Almost certainly not. There have already been hearings on the military spending authorization bill, at which only government officials testified.
If this provision becomes law, when will it take effect?
There is no fixed effective date in the bill. The provision in the bill authorizing the President to order women to register for the draft has contingent "springing" terms which appear designed to embarrass, or at least to put pressure on, whoever is President.
The amendment to the Military Selective Service Act attached to the defense authorization bill would "take effect 90 days after the later of (1) the date of the enactment of this Act; or (2) the date on which the Secretary of Defense certifies to Congress that all Combat Arms Military Occupational Specialties are open to qualified female candidates." This would allow (sexist) pro-draft and/or pro-war opponents of drafting women to shift the blame onto the President for extending registration to women, since the President could keep women from being subject to draft registration, even if this provision becomes law, by ordering women excluded from some or all combat occupations.
Some House Armed Services Committee members probably supported this amendment because they want to embarass a Democratic President (Obama or Clinton), or because they want to pressure the President to reverse the decsion to open all combat positions to women, and not because they actually want to require women to register or be drafted.
It's not clear whether or how how votes on this issue will break down on party lines. All but one of the Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee voted in favor of the amendment to extend draft registration to women, but some of them also suggested that they might support ending draft registration entirely. Most Republicans on the committee voted against the amendment, but five Republicans voted for it.
- As just discussed, even if this provision becomes law, the President would only have the authority to order women to register for the draft if women are allowed in all combat occupational specialties -- a decision which could be made (or reversed) by the President as Commander in Chief, or delegated by the President to the Department of Defense.
- The Military Selective Service Act gives the President the authority to require men between 18 and 26 years old to register. The amendment now included in the defense authorization bill would extend that Presidential authority to order registration of women of the same ages, 18-26. But the law does not, and would not, require the President to order anyone to register. A proclamation made in 1980 by President Carter that is still in effect (and will remain in effect until rescinded or superseded by another President) requires all men between 18 and 26 to register. If the provision as currently in the bill becomes law, the President could choose to do nothing, in which case men and only men would continue to be required to register, although the Presidential proclamation could be challenged in the courts as discriminatory. Or the President could order women as well as men to register. Or the President could rescind Carter's proclamation and end draft registration with the stroke of a pen (as President Ford did in 1975, and as the President could do now, at any time, regardless of whether this bill passes). No women would be required to register unless both this authorizing bill or one like it is approved, and the President issues a proclamation ordering women to register. The President could probably find excuses to delay issuing any new proclamation on draft registration for months while he or she "studies" what to do.
Which age groups of women would be affected?
That's hard to say, and not specified in the legislative proposal. The President would be authorized to order all women between 18 and 26, as of the effective date of the law or thereafter, to register with the Selective Service System. But the President could chose to order only some subset of those women to register. For example, the President might decide that 25-year old women would be more likely to resist, and harder to get to comply, than women just turning 18. The President might order that only women turning 18 on or after a specified date be required to register as they turn 18. Or the President could order mass registration periods for older women in specific age cohorts on specific dates, as was done for men in 1980.
If this proposal is defeated, will that end the threat to require women to register for the draft?
No. Lawsuits challenging the Constitutionality of male-only draft registration are already working their way through the courts, and are likely to be successful unless the opening of military combat jobs to women is reversed. If the current male-only draft registration is found unconstitutional, Congress will have to decide either to do nothing (allowing draft registration to end by court order) or to extend draft registration to women.
H.R. 4523 remains pending in the House as a free-standing bill (not an amendment) separate from the defense authorization act. H.R. 4523 would end draft registration, abolish the Selective Service System, end contingency planning for a draft of health care workers, and restore eligibility for Federal student aid and other programs for people who didn't register for the draft. This bill is likely to be considered (if at all -- many bills introduced in Congress are never debated or brought up for a vote) separately from the defense authorization bill. But the amendment to the defense authorization bill makes H.R. 4523 more important than ever. It needs more co-sponsors in the House, and sponsors for a similar bill in the Senate.
What should I do now if I don't want to register for the draft -- and I don't want anyone else to have to register either?
- Contact your Representative in Congress today. Urge them to remove the amendment to H.R. 4909 to extend draft registration to women, and to support H.R. 4523 (leaflet, PDF, petition) to end draft registration and abolish the Selective Service System. Tell Congress that resistance will make draft registration of women unenforceable, as it has for men.
- Encourage your Senators to oppose any similar amendment to the defense authorization bill in the Senate to authorize draft registration for women, and to sponsor a Senate bill similar to H.R. 4523 to end draft registration entirely.
- Educate yourself and spread the word to your friends and concerned communities and organizations about the draft, draft registration, and draft resistance.
- Continue to encourage, support, and join in resistance to draft registration, especially preparations by young women to resist draft registration. (Registration-age women: Please send "I Won't Go" or "We Won't Go" statements for publication on Resisters.info, with your name(s) or anonymously as you wish. Let us know what we can do to help!)
[Background: Extend draft registration to women -- or end it? More about the draft, draft registration, and draft resistance.]
Posted by Edward on Wednesday, 27 April 2016, 18:24 ( 6:24 PM)
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"Instead of Drafting Women, Dump the Draft" (by Lucy Steigerwald, Playboy, 28 April 2016):
"Some have argued that since conscription affects more people than today's wars fought by a small number of Americans, bringing it back might paradoxically make the U.S. more cautious about engaging in conflicts. When taking this stance, people will point to Vietnam. And yep, anger with the draft did help end the war.... after 60,000 Americans and two million Vietnamese died. You don't stop the runaway truck of U.S. foreign policy by throwing a man in front of it, and you definitely don’t stop it by throwing a man and a woman, just to make things equal."
"Gender-Neutral Draft Registration Would Create Millions of Female Felons" (by Steven Nelson, U.S. News & World Report, 3 May 2016):
"It will inevitably lead to massive resistance, whether visible in the streets or women just blowing it off the way men have," says Edward Hasbrouck, prosecuted for not registering in the 1980s. "Congress is smoking crack if they think women can be forced to register."...
In the late '80s the Justice Department discontinued prosecutions. Dick Flahavan, a spokesman for the Selective Service who was with the agency at the time, recalls the Justice Department "decided that since there was no draft and there was high compliance, there are limited resources and the FBI’s time would be better spent chasing white collar crime than some Mennonite kid through Pennsylvania."
"We said, 'Fine, we understand,' and that's why it ended in '88," he says. "The agency did agree to what the Justice Department proposed, a suspension of prosecutions [during peace time]. Since they did the prosecutions we didn't have much leverage anyways."
"Registering Women for the Draft: A Charade, Not a Necessity" (by Earl H. Tilford, Center for Vision and Values, Grove City College, 9 May 2016):
"Ultimately, the issue of conscripting women is a political charade. Republicans support it to avoid being accused of starting a 'war on women.' Democrats do so as a matter of social justice and social engineering and not national security. Either way, drafting women is inane."
"House set to weigh in on drafting women" (by Travis J. Tritten, Stars and Stripes, 9 May 2016):
"The House may weigh in next week on whether women must register for the military draft.
"A Texas congressman is challenging a proposal by a House committee that requires [actually, authorizes the President to require -EH] women 18-26 years old to register with the currently all-male Selective Service. The draft expansion passed in April by the House Armed Services Committee is now part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act policy bill.
"Legislation sponsored by Rep. Pete Sessions, a Republican, strikes the committee’s Selective Service changes from the NDAA and is among the very first proposed amendments to be filed Monday as the House gears up for debate and passage of the massive bill next week.
"A series of political skirmishes over the draft appear headed for a decisive battle during the House vote on the NDAA. The Senate is expected to debate the draft and its version of the defense bill this week...
"Sessions' staff said he was not available Monday to comment. But his House Committee on Rules had filed the proposal and indicated it would allow the NDAA floor vote next week.
"Rep. Duncan Hunter ... voted against his own measure. His spokesman Joe Kasper said Monday that the congressman's intention is to force a House floor vote on the draft and he backs Sessions."
"Republican seeks to strike language requiring women to register for draft" (by Rebecca Kheel, The Hill, 9 May 2016):
"A Republican congressman is seeking to strike language requiring women to register for the draft from a defense policy bill.
"Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), chairman of the House Rules Committee, filed an amendment striking the language on Monday to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)....
"Language requiring women to register for the draft was added to the bill in a surprise move last month during the House Armed Services Committee’s markup....
"Six Republicans joined with all but one of the committee’s Democrats in voting for it, leading to its surprise 32-30 passage and inclusion in the larger bill....
"The NDAA is expected to come to the House floor next week."
"McCain may support women registering for draft" (by Jacqueline Klimas, Washington Examiner, 28 April 2016):
"Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he is leaning toward supporting the proposal adopted by the House Armed Services Committee ... that would require women to register for the draft.
"I think I would lean towards it, but I'd like to hear the arguments for and against it," the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee told reporters Thursday at the Capitol....
"The Senate begins considering its version of the National Defense Authorization Act next month. Once it passes a bill, both chambers will need to iron out differences in conference.
"McCain said he thinks the committee will deal with the issue of women being drafted at the full committee markup that begins May 11."
"No, Women Should Not Be Included in the Draft" (by Jude Eden, Daily Signal, 16 February 2016):
"Drafting women is a bad idea because putting women into combat units is a bad idea... We always need men to fight whereas drafting women is totally unnecessary.
"The policy [on women in combat] is in place, but policies change.... Congress can defund or postpone the effort in the next National Defense Authorization Act, or postpone implementation until they can review the studies and ramifications. It may take the next president to reinstate women’s combat exemption, but it can be done."
"Don’t Force America's Daughters Into Combat" (by Jennifer Marshall, Genevieve Wood, and Steven Bucci, The Heritage Foundation, 10 May 2016):
"Congress should prohibit forcing women into combat, including through Selective Service registration. And, since many voices are already citing the fact that women *can* serve in all combat posts to argue that women *must* register for the draft, Congress should also revisit the blanket policy of women in combat."
Letter to the Editor by Marc Becker (Freeman Courier, 11 May 2016):
"In no way can including women in registration for a military draft be equated or confused with equality for women.
Jimmy Carter originally wanted to include women when he restarted draft registration 35 years ago.... Then, as during previous wars and as now, women were among the strongest supporters of men who refused to fight in these meaningless and endless wars....
Equality does not seek to lower opportunities for some, but to raise them for everyone. Equality does not mean including women in draft registration, but ending draft registration for everyone."
"It's Just Registration, It's Not the Draft" (by Maria Santelli, Sojourners magazine, June 2016):
"While much of the debate has focused on issues of gender -- will young women be required to register? -- the problems with draft registration are extensive and worthy of more thorough consideration.... Despite the spin that tries to trivialize registration ('It’s just registration, it’s not the draft'), the primary purpose of registration is to be prepared for war."
"John McCain Slips in Provision to Draft Women in Defense Bill" (by Daniel Horowitz, Conservative Review, 12 May 2016):
"John McCain ... who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, deliberately placed that provision in his chairman's mark of the NDAA, according to a Senate staffer.
"I am further told by Senate staff that it is unlikely an amendment to strike this provision will even succeed on the floor of the Senate, which means a majority of that body now supports drafting women. The only hope to stop this is on the House floor."
"Senate defense authorization bill sets up congressional funding fight" (by Leo Shane III, Military Times, 12 May 2016):
"One similarity in the two plans for now is the inclusion of women in the Selective Service System. Both chamber’s plans also call for a review of the system’s functions and responsibilities, with a possible eye towards elimination in the future.
But even that point of agreement could change. The full House is expected to debate its version of the budget policy language next week, and several lawmakers have said they’ll move to strike the draft requirement for women from the legislation.
No timetable has been set for when the full Senate will debate its draft of the bill."
"Senate Bill Calls for Women to Register for Draft in 2018" (Associated Press, 13 May 2016):
Women would begin signing up with Selective Service in January 2018 under a measure approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee....
Despite agreement by both the Senate and the House Armed Services committees on this issue, a provocative debate is expected when legislation requiring women to register is considered in the full Senate and House.
"This is a highly consequential - and, for many American families, a deeply controversial - decision that deserves to be resolved by Congress after a robust and transparent debate in front of the American people, instead of buried in an embargoed document that is passed every year to fund military pay and benefits," said Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah., who voted against the policy bill.
As a constituent of Rep. Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco, I received the following response today to my e-mail to Rep. Pelosi asking her to support HR4523 and oppose the extension of Presidential authority for draft registration to women.
Note that it does not mention draft registration or the draft, and that Chuck Hagel resigned and was replaced as Secretary of Defense more than a year ago.
You can draw your own conclusions, but I infer that as long as Hillary Clinton hasn't taken a posiiton on this issue, Rep. Pelosi is keeping her options open to follow wherever Clinton decides to lead.
------- Forwarded message follows -------
From: "Representative Nancy Pelosi"
Subject: Responding to your message
Date sent: Fri, 13 May 2016 09:03:30 -0400
Dear Mr. Hasbrouck,
Thank you for contacting me to discuss your views. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.
I believe there is no more fundamental responsibility than to support our troops. Every day, we must honor our brave men and women in uniform for their patriotism, their service, and for the sacrifice they and their families are willing to make. In Congress, we must provide our troops with the tools they need to do their jobs, and the benefits that they have earned.
Congress must also work to ensure proper and appropriate oversight of the Department of Defense (DoD). Waste can be found in all agencies and departments, and the DoD must also come under close scrutiny. It is imperative that we curb defense contractors' wasteful practices and other
unnecessary expenditures by the DoD in order to restore accountability, transparency, and fiscal discipline to the federal budget.
I look forward to continuing to work with President Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to support our troops, improve our military readiness to keep the American people safe, strengthen accountability to the taxpayer and end the war in Afghanistan to bring our troops home
honorably, safely and soon.
Thank you, again, for contacting me on this issue. I hope you will continue to communicate with me on matters of concern to you. For more information on this or other issues affecting our city and our nation, please visit my website at http://www.pelosi.house.gov/ or sign up to
receive e-mail updates at http://www.pelosi.house.gov/media/pelosi-update.shtml.
Member of Congress
Please do not reply to this e-mail because this mailbox is unattended.
------- End of forwarded message -------
More details (attributed to a source on the committee staff) of the vote in the closed Senate committee markup session from Daniel Horowitz of Conservative Review:
Daniel Horowitz @RMConservative
McCain forcing women into military is part of the national transgender agenda to eradicate all differences between genders. all hands on deck
Daniel Horowitz @RMConservative
The following Rs voted with @SenMikeLee to strip out draft of women from NDAA: Inhofe, Sessions, Wicker, Cotton, Rounds, and Cruz
Daniel Horowitz @RMConservative
The following Rs voted with Dems to keep the draft of women in NDAA: McCain, Ayotte, Fischer, Ernst, Tillis, Sullivan, and Graham
Daniel Horowitz @RMConservative
Ultimately, only Lee and Cruz voted against the NDAA once that amdt was defeated. Fischer also voted no, but presumably for some other reason
Still unverified, but more from the same source:
UPDATE: I’m told that Sen. Mike Lee put forth an amendment to strike out the provision including women in the draft. The amendment was defeated 7-19. Every Democrat on the committee, along with GOP Sens. McCain, Ayotte, Fischer, Ernst, Tillis, Sullivan, and Graham voted to include women in Selective Service. Sens. Inhofe, Sessions, Wicker, Cotton, Rounds, and Cruz voted with Lee to strike out this pernicious provision.