Congress has finally managed to settle on a 2017 defense bill, costing $618.7 billion. Among several dropped ideas within the compromise is the mandatory draft for women.Members of both chambers have objected to the provision, and it was finally stripped from the bill on Tuesday.Historically, women have been exempt from the draft, which males from the ages of 18 to 26 are required to register for. Past legal exemptions from certain combat roles have been the primary reason for excluding women from required service. Earlier this year, Defense Secretary Ash Carter removed restrictions for females in the armed forces, so that they could serve in combat posts alongside their brothers in arms. In response to this move, several activists and military leaders indicated that they would also support the move to open the draft to all.
Instead, the final draft of the bill requires a look at the Selective Service System, questioning the need to have a draft at all. The draft hasn't been utilized since 1973, and with an annual budget of $23 million, it has come into question whether the system is either realistic or even cost effective. Military leaders themselves have questioned the use of the draft, and many have spoken against the idea of using it to fill the ranks should a national disaster arise.With Conservatives now controlling Congress as well as the presidency, it may be quite some time before the idea of a female draft gets past mere debate in the US Government.The bill has also included an extra $3.2 billion for additional manpower, but cut spending for both ships and jets. There is a further increase in funding for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), which would provide military members with an annual raise greater than the Pentagon preferred 1.6%. The increase would be closer to 2.1%, making it the first military raise over 2% in six years.