- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Republican-led House Rules Committee took action Monday to prevent women from being required to register for the draft following the Pentagon’s decision late last year to remove gender restrictions from combat roles.

Committee Chairman Rep. Pete Sessions, Texas Republican, spearheaded the successful effort to strip language from the National Defense Authorization Act that would have required women between the ages of 18 and 25 to sign up for the Selective Service. Additionally, Mr. Sessions added an amendment to the annual Pentagon spending bill that kills any language that would require women to register for a military draft.

In a statement, Mr. Sessions said his push was intended to prevent any “reckless policy” from moving forward without further review being taken to study the potential impact of requiring women to register with Selective Service.

“I have the utmost respect and deepest appreciation for the young women who bravely volunteer to serve our country, but I am adamantly opposed to coercing America’s daughters to sign up for the Selective Service at 18 years of age,” Mr. Sessions said.

“I did choose to do this, but it was in essence to save us what I believe is good policy notwithstanding how someone may rate that,” the congressman added.

Mr. Sessions said the U.S. military may not require Selective Service anymore.

“I believe the Selective Service has been a very useful tool to enable our country and the military to be prepared,” he said, The Hill reported. “I believe the testimony today supported an understanding that we don’t even need a draft.”

Following the Pentagon’s decision in December 2015 to open all combat jobs to women, the House Armed Services Committee voted 32-30 last month in favor of requiring women to register with Selective Service. With Mr. Sessions successfully striking that provision from next year’s NDAA, however, the full House will for now be prevented from voting on the matter.

A Senate bill that still remains in tact includes a similar provision, indicating the issue could still be brought up for debate before a final spending bill is agreed upon by both chambers.

In the meantime, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee was quick to call into question Mr. Session’s efforts in a Tuesday morning statement.

“The Rules Committee chairman is so concerned about a vote on women’s equality in the military that he has created a provision ‘considered as adopted’ that overturns a measure voted on by the Armed Services Committee, ignores the mandatory scoring requirement and passes itself, avoiding a separate vote by the full House,” Rep. Adam Smith, Washington Democrat, said in a statement.

“This is a dead-of-night attempt to take an important issue off the table, and I think people will probably see through this tactic,” Mr. Smith added.

Current law requires men between the ages of 18 and 26 to register with the Selective Service System for possible involuntary military enrollment in the event of war, but no soldiers have been drafted in over 40 years.

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