It was the closest the U.S. has come to requiring women to register for the Selective Service: Both the House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee approved the historic change as they debated the annual defense spending package for 2022.
Then, earlier this month, it was stripped out during closed-door negotiations.
The Selective Service is one of the last pieces of federal law where men and women are not treated equally. Men are required to register once they turn 18, meaning they could be forced into the military if Congress and the President ever reinstate the draft.
Support for requiring women to register has united unlikely political allies. Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand from New York, a member of the Armed Services Committee, called it a gender equality and a national defense issue.
“To say, ‘Only men are needed,’ in that moment of a national emergency, is outrageous and obscene,” Gillibrand said at a December 8 news conference. In a statement she said she’ll continue to pursue “all legislative routes to implement this policy” through annual defense spending or a standalone bill.