Key votes in the U.S. House of Representatives on proposals to repeal (unlikely), expand to women (most likely), or eliminate some of the penalties for violations of the Military Selective Service Act will take place this week as part of the debate on this year’s annual National Defense [sic] Authorization Act (NDAA).
Here’s a calendar of the Congressional and Presidential actions that are leading up to women being required to register and report address changes to the Selective Service System starting when women born in 2005 turn 18 in 2023.
Calls to members of the House are needed now, especially to members of the House Rules Committee who will decide this Monday whether the full House will debate or vote on whether to expand draft registration to women (or will enact this as part of a larger bill with no line-item debate or vote on Selective Service).
The version of the NDAA as reported to the House floor by the House Armed Services Committee, which will be enacted unless amended, includes a section that would would expand Selective Service registration to young women as well as young men.
Amendments to the House version of the NDAA have been proposed to retain registration and keep it for men only, allow registration by women but make registration optional for women (but still required for men), repeal the registration requirement entirely, or eliminate the extrajudicial Federal and state sanctions for nonregistration (leaving only the unenforced and unenforceable criminal penalties). Some, all, or none of these and other amendments could be "made in order" by the Rules Committee for consideration by the full House.
Yesterday, a coalition of organizations opposed to Selective Service sent a joint letter to all members of the House Rules Committee asking that the "rule" it adopts for consideration of the NDAA by the full House provide for debate and a vote on Amendment 133, which would entirely repeal the Military Selective Service Act. The letter also supports Amendment 353, which would allow draft registration to continue but would eliminate all extrajudicial Federal and state sanctions for violations.
Floor debate and votes by the full House on amendments to the NDAA will take place later this week. So regardless of whether your representative is a member of the Rules Committee, now is the time to contact them (again) to urge them to support amendments to the NDAA to repeal (or reduce the penalties for violations of), not expand, Selective Service.
Votes on the Senate version of the NDAA will come at a later date not yet scheduled, followed by a House-Senate conference committee which will meet behind closed doors later this fall to negotiate a compromise between the House and Senate versions on those provisions where they differ.
Ending draft registration is an important way that popular direct action can constrain planning and preparations for endless unlimited war(s). Lobbying is important, and now is the time. But the chances that either the House or Senate will amend its version of the NDAA to remove the provisions expanding draft registration to women are small. So it’s even more important to step up education, outreach, and organizing to encourage continued resistance to draft registration by young men, new forms of resistance by young women, and support from older allies.