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House passes defense bill automatically registering men 18-26 for draft

The House passed a bill Friday that would automatically register all men between the ages of 18 and 26 for the draft.

It is part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets out the US government’s military and national security priorities for the next fiscal year.

This year’s NDAA authorizes $895.2 billion in military spending, an increase of $9 billion over fiscal year 2024.

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Though it has not been invoked for over half a century, all male U.S. citizens are required to register for the Selective Service System, also known as the draft, when they turn 18. Failure to register is considered a felony and comes with numerous legal consequences.

Supporters of the amendment say it would cut bureaucratic red tape, help Americans avoid unnecessary legal issues, and reduce taxpayer money spent on such litigation.

The bill, spearheaded by Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, was passed by the House Armed Services Committee in May as part of the NDAA, which passed the committee by an overwhelming 57-1 vote.

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Chrissie Houlahan

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan led the conscription bill. (Getty Images)

“By using available federal databases, [Selective Service] “This agency will be able to register all individuals who need to and will help ensure that future military conscription is fair and just,” Houlahan said during a debate last month. Defense News.

“This will allow us to reallocate resources — money, essentially — to reading preparation and mobilization, rather than education and advertising campaigns to drive registration.”

The NDAA also included the largest military pay increase in history, increasing junior soldiers’ pay by 19.5 percent and all other soldiers’ pay by 4.5 percent.

The bill also includes funding for the construction of two new Virginia-class submarines and the establishment of a drone unit within the U.S. Army.

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Speaker Mike Johnson

House Speaker Mike Johnson passed the NDAA in the House on Friday. (Getty Images)

The NDAA passed the House by a vote of 217-199 but is unlikely to be taken up in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, R-New York, blasted the bill on Friday afternoon for including amendments that would limit funding for abortion, transgender health care and diversity initiatives.

“Of course, the bill coming out of the House today is loaded with anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion, anti-environment and other divisive amendments that will not pass the Senate,” Schumer said. “As we move through this year’s NDAA process, both sides must work together to pass a bipartisan bill that honors and respects all those who serve our nation.”