A pair of Republican congressmen who have criticized the military’s decision to open all combat roles to women are now leading the charge to have women register for the draft.
Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a former Marine, and Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), a former Navy SEAL, introduced legislation on Thursday to compel young women to register for the Selective Service, the agency responsible for implementing a draft.
For Hunter and Zinke, the bill does not mark a change of heart, but serves as a way to make a point.
Hunter said the bill would allow Congress weigh in on the military’s recent policy changes, while noting he would likely vote against his own proposal.
“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,” he said in a statement. “This discussion should have occurred before decision making of any type, but the fact that it didn’t now compels Congress to take a honest and thorough look at the issue,” he added.
Earlier this week, the top officers in the Army and the Marine Corps told members of Congress they believed women should start registering for the Selective Service, given the recent decision to make them eligible for any military job.
But while Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley has spoken positively about women in combat and Marine Corps Commandant Robert B. Neller has committed to implementing the new policy, Hunter and Zinke have been blunt in their criticism of the change.
Hunter, a former Marine, hails from a branch of the service that has struggled most with the decision to make the selection process for combat positions gender neutral.
“It’s going to get people killed,” Hunter said in an interview with Politico last month discussing the policy change. He added that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who had pushed for the changes, was “a greater threat to the Marine Corps than ISIS.”