WH Asked: Would Obama Sign Legislation Requiring Women to Register for Draft

By Susan Jones | April 29, 2016 | 6:50am EDT
President Barack Obama, with Sasha (left) and Malia at the 68th annual pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey in the Rose Garden of the White House in November 2015. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - White House Spokesman Josh Earnest was asked at Thursday's press briefing if President Barack  Obama would sign legislation requiring women to register for the selective service and whether it "has given him any pause to think that perhaps his daughters would have to sign up for the selective service."

Earnest said he couldn't "weigh in" on the issue "because it is a subject of litigation." He also said he hasn't heard President Obama "weigh in publicly on this."

On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee passed an amendment requiring women between the ages of 18 and 26 to register for the Selective Service. The full House is expected to vote on the larger defense authorization bill next month.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) introduced the Draft America’s Daughters Act in February, not because he supports the idea of drafting women, but because he opposes it.

“It’s wrong and irresponsible to make wholesale changes to the way America fights its wars without the American people having a say on whether their daughters and sisters will be on the front lines of combat,” Hunter said in February. “If this Administration wants to send 18-20 year old women into combat, to serve and fight on the front lines, then the American people deserve to have this discussion through their elected representatives."

Hunter voted against his bill, which passed the committee 32-30.

At the White House on Thursday, a reporter asked if Obama would sign a bill containing the selective service provision.

"That's a good question," Earnest said. "Obviously, this is an issue that is going to attract a lot of attention, understandably so. There's not much that I can say about it, however, because this is the subject of some ongoing litigation.

"You've seen recent announcements from the Secretary of Defense Ash Carter that would give more women who are in the military the opportunity to defend their country in more roles.

"And the president obviously has welcomed that progress. He certainly believes that makes our fighting forces even stronger."

"And the other thing that we know to be true is that men and women have served in our all volunteer force in both Iraq and in Afghanistan with distinction, and with courage, and with bravery. And it's because of their service and sacrifice, both men and women, that we're safer and that we enjoy so many of the freedoms that are easy to take for granted.

"The president certainly does not take them for granted. The president has often talked about how serving as the Commander in Chief of the United States military is the greatest honor. And that certainly is true because of the service and sacrifice that American men and women have made in our military."

The United States currently has an all-volunteer military. The draft ended in 1973, but all young men must register with the Selective Service when they turn 18.

A teenage girl in New Jersey filed a class-action suit against the military last July, claiming it's discriminatory for the Selective Service to omit women now that the U.S. military has opened all combat jobs to women.

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