Buckling under conservative pressure, the Republican-led House Rules Committee pulled a legislative sleight of hand and stripped a provision from the annual defense policy bill that would have required women between the ages of 18 and 25 to sign up for a military draft.
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said in a statement Tuesday the action was taken to prevent what he called a “reckless policy” from moving forward without closer study of its impact.
“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,” Sessions said.
The Rules Committee wields substantial influence over legislation before it moves to the House floor. The full House planned to start work on the bill on Tuesday. A Senate bill does include a version of the provision, so the congressional debate over whether women should register isn’t over.
Conservatives have warned that requiring women to sign up for a military draft is a dangerous blurring of gender lines.