Defense bill includes draft requirement for women

WASHINGTON (WOODTV/NEXSTAR) — Congress is advancing a plan to draft women into the military.

The provision is part of the national defense bill the House passed with bipartisan support in September and it will likely make it in the final plan.

Women have every ability as a man to serve … and they should be given the right,” said Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev. “I support it being included in the final package.”

The push is being met with some controversy, and a small group of Senate Republicans are actively opposing the draft provision.

Even though the U.S. isn’t currently using the draft — the last time the U.S. government used the draft was during the Vietnam War — the bill would require all U.S. citizens ages 18 to 26 to sign up, regardless of gender.

Among those who disagree: Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.

“I don’t quite get it,” Hawley said. “I’m going to try and force a vote to return the draft to how it has been, which is that women are not drafted against their will.”

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., says he wants a specific vote on the issue.

“This is a serious change of military policy and we should have a vote,” Cotton said. “All senators should go on the record.”

But not every Republican is opposed. In fact, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has long supported drafting women. Even so, Republican pushback on this and other issues is holding the bill back.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the military needs the funding bill to pass.

“These delays are unfortunate,” Schumer said. “There is no good reason to keep delaying; we should move the process forward.”

A vote isn’t expected until after lawmakers return from Thanksgiving break.

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