Lawmakers drop proposal to add women to the draft as defense bill headaches mount

Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees left the provision out of the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act, despite the fact that both chambers’ bills would have expanded the Selective Service System beyond men.

The move is a victory for conservatives who fought to strip the provision. Earlier attempts to kill the proposal came up short because lawmakers from both parties supported including women in the draft. Expanding Selective Service has gained momentum since all combat roles in the military were opened to women.

It’s also likely to upset Democrats who are already on edge over what may not make the cut. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are threatening to oppose the bill in the House this week if it doesn’t include a major overhaul in how the military prosecutes felonies as well provisions to combat extremism in the ranks.