May 13, 2016 / 5:30 PM / 2 years ago

Congress moves closer to requiring draft registration for women

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Senate committee has approved legislation that would require American women to register for the military draft, setting the stage for a fight in Congress over the historic shift in policy later this year.

U.S. Marine and Female Engagement Team leader Sgt. Sheena Adams (L) and H.N. Shannon Crowley from First Battalion, Eighth Marines sit in an armoured vehicle before heading out on an operation from their base at Musa Qala in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province in this November 13, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved the requirement late on Thursday, as an amendment to the $602 billion National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. The House of Representatives Armed Services Committee approved a similar amendment late last month.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced last year that all combat positions would be open to women, which immediately prompted calls that women also should be required to register, worrying social conservatives.

The U.S. military has been an all-volunteer force since the 1970s, but young men have been required to sign up for the Selective Service in case the draft is reactivated.

To become law, the measure would have to be approved by the full House and Senate, and signed by President Barack Obama.

It is already clear that will not be simple. Representative Pete Sessions, the Republican chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, has said he will offer another amendment to the NDAA to eliminate the measure requiring women’s registration.

Virtually all male U.S. citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 are required by law to have registered for the military draft within 30 days of their 18th birthdays.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by David Gregorio

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