The United States Senate overwhelmingly approved a defense bill on Tuesday that would, for the first time, require women to register for the military draft, CNN reported.
The $602 billion National Defense Authorization Act, which outlines the defense budget for the next fiscal year, includes an amendment requiring women to register for the Selective Service System. The SSS is the national register that tracks all American adults—currently all men—who are eligible for the draft. This development follows another recent milestone for gender parity in the military: the Pentagon’s announcement last December that all combat roles are now open to women.
The White House has threatened to veto the NDAA for provisions unrelated to the draft amendment. An executive memo released last week claimed that the current budget “micromanages” the Department of Defense by forcing rigid organizational changes, preventing the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center, and “limiting U.S. engagement with Cuba.” But even if President Barack Obama were to veto the bill, this Tuesday’s vote indicated strong enough Senate support to reject that veto.
So for now, the proposed budget — close to the $604.2 billion approved last fiscal year — looks likely to go through, including the new draft requirements. As Pacific Standard reported in May, a draft requirement doesn’t have huge practical implications for women; the U.S. military has operated entirely on volunteers for the last four decades. But it does open up the possibility of a wartime America that looks different from anything we’ve seen before.