The Senate voted 51 to 40 last night against registering women for a possible military draft after voting in limit debate on the registration issue.
By 62 to 32, the Senate earlier had agreed to limit debate on the bill to appropriate $13.3 million requested by President Carter to register 19- and 20-year-old males. This action permitted only 100 hours of debate on the issue. Democratic leaders then ordered the Senate into an all-night session to eat up the time as Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.) threatened to use as much of it as he could to call up about 75 amendments in an attempt to kill the bill.
But the cloture vote indicated that when time runs out on Hatfield, the Senate will vote, as the House already has, to register men.
President Carter asked for money to carry out his power to register 19- and 20-year-old males after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, to show American resolve. But it has had a tough fight in Congress. Many members consider registration alone a meaningless gesture which would be so understood by the Soviets but might lull the American people into a false sense of security that military manpower problems had been solved.
In the House, which has voted the $13.3 million, registration was considered an end in itself. Leaders assured members that Carter had no intention of taking the next step of asking Congress to reinstate the draft, even though critics said registration otherwise made no sense.
The Senate debate has sounded more as though registration is a first step toward a draft. Asked about this yesterday, House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) said he still doesn't think draft legislation is likely this year or next.
The votes of 60 senators are needed to invoice cloture. The 60th was cast by Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who opposes registration but opposes filibusters more. Once cloture was assured, Bob Packwood (R-Ore.), who had withheld his vote because his Oregon colleague Hatfield was leading the filibuster, voted for cloture, as did Lowell Weicker (R-Conn.).