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July 13, 2016

Congress Debates Expanding Selective Service to Include Women

William A. Estrada, Esq.
Director of Federal Relations


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Congress is debating whether to require women to register for Selective Service and the military draft.

The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), H.R. 4909, passed the House on May 18, and did not have any language expanding registration with Selective Service. The Senate version of the NDAA, S. 2943, which passed the Senate on June 14, expanded Selective Service by requiring women to register.

The two versions of the NDAA now head to a conference committee to be reconciled. Then the full House and full Senate will vote on the final version before the NDAA heads to President Obama’s desk.

If Selective Service is changed to require women to register, what will that mean? It means that starting on January 1, 2018, all women born in 2000 or after will be required to register for Selective Service. Any woman who failed to do so would be ineligible for federal employment and federal student loans. Currently, only men are required to register for Selective Service, and failure to register at age 18 bars men from federal student aid or federal employment.

It is possible that if the law is changed, women would be drafted to serve in the military against their will. This would be of grave concern to HSLDA and many homeschooling families. However, the draft has not been reinstituted since it ended in 1973 at the close of the Vietnam War. It would take a separate law (passed by both the House and Senate and signed into law by the president) to restart the draft and actually force young men and women to serve in the military. Due to changes with how wars are fought and the success of our all-volunteer military over the past 40 years, this appears unlikely.

HSLDA recognizes the service of our brothers, sisters, husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, and friends who have served our nation honorably in the armed forces. HSLDA has proudly fought and won legislative battles to ensure that homeschool graduates are free to serve their nation in the armed forces. However, these have all been volunteers who have chosen to fight for our nation. It may be time for Congress to take a hard look at the Selective Service to see if the draft—forcing young people to fight—is desirable or even a military necessity in the 21st century.

If this issue is important to you, we encourage you to contact your elected officials and share your thoughts with them. You can reach your U.S. representative and two U.S. senators by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or using HSLDA’s legislative toolbox.