Rep. Chip Roy of Texas on dropping female draft from NDAA: 'Can't win a fight if you don't pick it'

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Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, emphasized the need for politicians to stand up and fight on issues like drafting women into the military, arguing that Congress was allowing bad policies into legislation without sufficient debate.

His comments came just after lawmakers dropped a provision from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that required women to register for the draft. A person with knowledge of the move reportedly said it was a tradeoff for Republicans accepting military justice reforms.

Roy, one of the most outspoken lawmakers on the topic, had previously given his GOP colleagues an ultimatum, stating that they wouldn’t receive his vote for a party leadership position if the NDAA included the “daughter draft.”

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, speaks during the House Judiciary Committee markup of the Elder Abuse Protection Act, the Criminal Judicial Administration Act, and other amendments in Rayburn Building on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) 

The House Republican Conference had previously backed the bill with the inclusion of the provision requiring women to register for the draft, but it was removed from the bill’s final version, which passed the House on Wednesday.

Roy also pushed to block dishonorable discharges for soldiers who refused to get the vaccine.

“My point is, number one, as an institution, if you accept the NDAA as inevitable, you’re turning your voting card over to the chairman of Armed Services and the leaders,” Roy said.

He added that “you can’t win a fight if you don’t pick it.”

Roy said he wanted to “ensure that my daughter who is 10 years old doesn’t get drafted.” He added that he thought “Congress is fundamentally broken right now.” 

“We should be starting with very clean bills that don’t spend beyond our means, that focus on what they’re supposed to be focused on, put it on the floor, and if somebody wants to offer an amendment, then you know, giddy up, offer an amendment and open debate on the floor … let’s actually debate it for a day.”

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, speaks during a hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations on Capitol Hill in Washington Sept. 28, 2021. (Patrick Semansky/Pool via REUTERS)

NDAA’s female draft provision also encountered pushback from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who introduced legislation to strip that part of the bill.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., who proposed inserting the draft provision, previously defended it in a comment to Fox News.

“As we look at the future, we’re going to need a lot more people who can operate autonomous vehicles, etc.,” Reed said in November. “You don’t have to be six feet, two, etc., to do that and be able to bench press 280 pounds. You just got to be smart and well educated and willing to serve the nation.” 

The idea of drafting women has become less popular among Americans. In August, an Ipsos poll showed that 45% of Americans supported drafting women compared to 63% in 2016. Support also broke down along gender lines with men favoring the idea at 55% compared to just 36% among women.

The issue grabbed headlines in June when the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the decades-old requirement. In her opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor deferred to Congress, but indicated that a male-only draft could be challenged as discriminatory.

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