Women could begin registering for the draft as early as 2018, or the entire Selective Service System could be abolished by then.
House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders met Thursday to discuss potential sticking points in upcoming conference discussions on a compromise authorization bill.
Committee ranking member Jack Reed, D-R.I., went even further.
"I think it's important to include that" in the final version, he said. "Women have demonstrated superb skill in every aspect of military operations, and I think this is just a recognition of their contributions to the military. So I hope it's not a major fight."
The proposed House study on the Selective Service issue would include an analysis not just of ways to restructure the system, but also whether such changes "would impact the need for both male and female inductees."
That plan was backed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas., in drafting the bill and on the House floor. He said he's open to other ideas on the issue as the conference looms, but "I still think that we ought to study whether we need it or not before we get to the question of who should be registered."
"If women meet existing high standards for service and enjoy all of the benefits of citizenship in time of peace, they must be equally responsible for defending the nation in a time of war," the editorial states. "We cannot expect full equality if we continue to support a Selective Service that only requires compulsory service by men."
But the idea has received strong opposition from a number of Republican lawmakers, including several presidential hopefuls during the spring primary season.
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.