The voting on the amendment was split largely along party lines, however a few Republicans broke rank.
Reps. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) voted to add women to the selective services.
“I’ve talked to coffee house liberals and conservative families that pray three times a day and neither of those families want their daughters to be drafted,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who introduced the amendment. “A draft is there to get more people to rip the enemies’ throats out and kill them for our nation, sanctioned by the U.S. government. I may vote no on my own amendment.”
Hunter did end up voting no.
Prominent military officials, including Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, said women should be drafted now that they are eligible for combat roles.
Hunter said the current selective service system was sexist by only requiring men to join.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) accused Hunter of introducing the provision as a “got ya amendment,” forcing liberals to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to women in combat. Speier said she fully supported the amendment.
“I actually support universal conscription. I actually think if we want equality in this country, we want women to be treated precisely like men are treated and that they should not be discriminated against, [then] we should be willing to support a universal conscription,” Speier said. “I support your amendment and will be delighted to vote for it.”
The House 2017 defense authorization bill has a provision in it requiring DoD conduct a study on selective service.
The study is “about what the benefits are, about what alternatives may be, so we have a fuller picture of the draft and what it would mean to keep it, to do away with it, to include females in it, to try to have that broader picture,” said committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas).
DoD opened combat roles, without exceptions, to women at the end of the 2015 as long as they qualify and meet the standards required. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not agree with the decision and thought some combat positions should still be closed to women.
Lawmakers also passed an amendment that would reform the way retirement pensions are doled out to service members who have gone through a divorce.
The amendment, introduced by Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.), states someone who is divorced from a service member will only be able to receive a portion of the retirement pay consistent with the rank of the service member at the time of the divorce.
In other words, if a person gets divorced as a major, but retires as a general, the portion of retirement pay the non-service member divorcee is eligible for is at a major pay grade.
Russell said one of his constituents was in the military and married for two years, divorced and then married again. The constituent spent 31 more years in the military and married to the second spouse.
But, when he retired, the first spouse was able to get 50 percent of his retirement pay.
The amendment drew support from both sides of the aisle and was passed by a voice vote.