The military draft may be headed for the scrap heap.

The House Armed Services Committee lawmakers will include instructions to re-examine the viability of the current Selective Service program's viability and possible "other alternatives" as part of its review of their annual defense authorization bill next week, staffers confirmed on Friday.

The move comes following months of congressional hand-wringing over whether women will be forced to register for the draft as part of the military's, after military officials announced plans to open combat jobs posts to all troops regardless of gender.

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers — several of whom sit on the committee — has already offered legislation to abolish the Selective Service System, calling it an outdated vestige of military history.

Committee officials said the authorization bill language is not geared toward keeping or eliminating the Selective Service system, but reviewing the cost and operation of a program that hasn't been used to fill the ranks since 1973.

The agency's activities cost taxpayers roughly $23 million each year, and a 2012 Government Accountability Office report questioned whether the system could even provide a list of draftees to the Defense Department if called upon to do so.

Meanwhile, military officials over the last two decades have repeatedly downplayed the idea of reviving the military draft, saying today's all-volunteer force is the most highly trained and disciplined in American history.

While returning to the draft could connect more Americans to the armed forces, it would almost certainly also dilute that skill.

Several lawmakers have also voiced plans to introduce related amendments to the authorization bill to specifically exempt women from registering for the draft, arguing that Pentagon officials haven't fully thought out the ramifications of opening combat jobs to women.

The authorization bill, which sets spending guidelines and policy priorities for next fiscal year, will be marked up by the armed services committee on Thursday April 28. The Senate must take up the measure later this year before sending the proposal to the White House to be signed into law. 

Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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