Taking one step closer to having women register for the draft

US military soldiers march during the Veterans Day Parade in New York on Nov. 11, 2014. (Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty)
US military soldiers march during the Veterans Day Parade in New York on Nov. 11, 2014.
Exactly one year ago tomorrow, the Obama administration took the historic step of opening all combat jobs to women. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said at the time, "We cannot afford to cut ourselves off from half the country's talents and skills."The decision, however, kicked off a debate we've been keeping an eye on for a while: if there are no gender-related restrictions on combat service, why is the selective-service system limited to young men? The top uniformed leaders from the Army and Marine Corps have already made the case that there's no reason to treat young women differently when it comes registering for a draft.Politicians aren't so sure, and the politics of the debate isn't cutting neatly along partisan lines. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), for example, has endorsed equal treatment, while Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) made his opposition to the idea part of his presidential campaign.Late yesterday, NBC News reported that the White House and the Pentagon also endorsed changing the status quo.

"While Secretary [Ash] Carter strongly supports our all-volunteer approach and does not advocate returning to a draft, as he has said in the past, he thinks it makes sense for women to register for selective service just as men must," Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement to NBC News. [...]A spokesman for Obama's National Security Council Ned Price echoed the sentiment in a statement to USA TODAY on Thursday, saying "As old barriers for military service are being removed, the administration supports -- as a logical next step -- women registering for the Selective Service."

Just so we're clear, there is no meaningful effort underway to reinstate the draft. This is solely a discussion about the selective service registration process, and whether or not to change the system to treat men and women equally.The debate, however, will not end soon. Congress worked on a defense spending bill this week, and removed a provision from the bill that would have required all Americans, regardless of gender, to register for the selective service.