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Female Draft, Presidential War Power Repeals to Be Scrapped from Defense Bill

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A compromised version of the National Defense Authorization Act is reportedly set to scrap provisions that would require women to register for the draft and strip military force authorizations for the Iraq and Gulf Wars.

Both provisions were bipartisan and included in both the House and Senate’s original bills. But the annual defense bill, which has passed Congress each year for the past six decades, stalled in the Senate after lawmakers failed to agree on a path allowing for dozens of amendment votes.

The likely omission of a female draft, first reported by Politico, was celebrated by several conservative lawmakers who had fought against the provision.

“I certainly hope that is the case,” Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley said in response to the provision’s potential exclusion from the annual defense bill, calling the draft expansion “wrong and misguided.”

Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters Monday that the 1991 and 2002 Authorized Use of Military Force (AUMF) repeals, which apply to the Gulf and Iraq Wars, respectively, would also likely be left out of the Act.

“Unfortunately, I think because last week we didn’t get cooperation from all our colleagues, so the AUMF amendment couldn’t be voted on,” Reed said.

The bipartisan repeals would have clawed back some war powers. The House passed a repeal of the 2002 AUMF with bipartisan support in July, a move that was endorsed by President Joe Biden.

One provision that was expected to remain, however, was an overhaul to how the military handles serious crimes like murder and sexual assault, which also had bipartisan support.

Congressional leadership also sought to tie the NDAA to a debt ceiling increase, but the move was opposed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and several Senate Republicans, at least 10 of whom would have to endorse the measure for it to have a chance at being adopted.

“Funding our troops through the NDAA should in no way, shape, or form be tied to the debt limit in process or substance,” McCarthy said Monday.

“If they come out and they simply say, ‘we’re going to attach a debt ceiling increase to the NDAA,’ I think it’s probably dead on arrival,” South Dakota Republican Sen. Mike Rounds told reporters.

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