Washington Examiner

'They can go to hell!': Right rejects push to force women to register for the draft

By Matthew Wilson

Some Republicans in Congress are going to war against their own party, coming out in full force against a renewed effort to make women register for the military draft.

A coalition of 11 Republican senators led by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) lambasted a proposed amendment to the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act by Senate Democrats that would require women to register with the Selective Service System, putting them at odds with even some members of their own party who voted in favor of the amendment.

The coalition urged Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) “in the strongest possible terms not to use this year’s NDAA to try to force America’s women to register for the military draft” in a letter on Wednesday. Revisiting a failed effort to add a similar provision to the 2022 NDAA would be “a grave mistake” and would “needlessly inject divisive social policies into important debates over our national security,” the senators argued.

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted in favor of adding the provision with the support of seven committee Republicans hours after Hawley’s letter was released, leaving the Right fuming. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), an outspoken opponent of expanding the draft to women, excoriated Republicans who voted in favor of the proposal.

“It’s absurd that you have so-called conservative members of the United States Senate who are willing to say to the American people, ‘We’re going to draft your daughters,’” the Texas congressman told the Washington Examiner in an interview. “They can go to hell! And if the entire Republican establishment wants to get behind drafting our daughters, I will make it my mission to burn the entire Republican establishment to the ground.”

“Anybody who wants to come conscript my daughter can f*** off,” Roy, who has a daughter, added.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a signatory of the letter, similarly condemned proposals to include women in the draft.

“My daughters know that they’re capable of achieving anything they set their minds to,” the senator told the Washington Examiner. “But the idea that our government would force women into service through the draft to fight our nation’s wars is immoral and outrageous.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the Washington Examiner that he will “always oppose” any proposal that would “force our daughters and granddaughters to register for the Selective Service.”

Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, disparaged efforts to send women to the front lines because she “cannot see any strategic benefits our military would gain by doing so,” a stance echoed by a spokesman for Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), who told the Washington Examiner that the senator saw “no compelling reason” to force women to register for the draft. Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) added that “mandating that [women] register for the draft is wrong” in a statement to the Washington Examiner.

Established by the Selective Service Act of 1917, the Selective Service System maintains a list of all male U.S. citizens between the ages of 18 to 25 in the event that Congress were to enact a law authorizing military conscription. While only men are legally required to register with the Selective Service System, recent years have seen efforts to force women to register as well, though proposals introduced as recently as last year have floundered.

Despite growing support from some corners, including Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), who introduced a failed amendment in 2017 that would have required women to register for the draft because “men and women should be treated equally,” opposition to a draft for women has become a sticking point for some on the Right, with Roy not ruling out opposing candidates for leadership positions in the House if they called for the expansion of the draft.

“Let’s just say that anybody who should be speaker of the House should not be drafting my daughter,” Roy said.