Should conscription ever again be necessary in the United States, it'll still be men called first. Though now eligible to fill combat posts, women will not be forced to register for involuntary military service beginning in January 2018. The provision mandating that women sign up—backed by women's rights advocates, some military leaders, and Sen. John McCain, per the Hill—had been included in drafts of the annual defense bill that passed House and Senate panels, but it was left out of a final draft revealed Tuesday, reports Military Times. The National Defense Authorization Act instead asks for a fresh look at the Selective Service System, which requires men 18 to 26 to register for the draft, to see if it's still warranted.
Republican Sen. Ben Sasse calls the $618.7 billion bill "a victory for common sense" that shows "both sides will put national security ahead of unnecessary culture-warring." Some $59.5 billion is dedicated to the Overseas Contingency Operations war fund, including $383 million for airstrikes against the Islamic State. Another $8.3 billion will cover the hiring of more troops, plus 2% pay raises; President Obama had initially asked for $5.1 billion to cover those costs, reports the Hill. He's not likely to be pleased by much else in the bill, though. The AP reports a presidential veto is possible as the bill also forbids closing Guantanamo Bay and military bases, or reducing the number of active-duty troops. The House is expected to vote on the bill by Friday. (Read more US military stories.)