Members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 11 introduced legislation that would end the Selective Service System, reported The Wall Street Journal. This proposal comes amidst controversy surrounding the decision by Defense Secretary Ash Carter to open all combat positions in the U.S. military to women.

Reps. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Jared Polis, D-Colo. and Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., sponsored the bill.

"Now that women are eligible to serve in combat roles and Congress debates how to proceed on the issue of draft inclusion, we should consider a full repeal of the draft and the abolition of the Selective Service," Coffman said in an interview with the newspaper.

Confronting controversy
Carter's decision in December forced Defense Department officials and legislators to reevaluate long-established military practices, including conscription. The Selective Service System currently requires male citizens and permanent residents 18-25 years of age to register.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., both veterans, proposed separate legislation earlier this month that would make women subject to conscription, reported The Washington Post. According to its authors, the bill was merely symbolic – a legislative protest against Carter's unilateral decision to open all combat positions to women.   

"If this Administration wants to send 18-20 year old women into combat, to serve and fight on the front lines, then the American people deserve to have this discussion through their elected representatives," Hunter said in a statement. "This discussion should have occurred before decision making of any type, but the fact that it didn't now compels Congress to take a honest and thorough look at the issue."

Hunter plans to vote against his own legislation.

According to NPR, top military officials have mixed views on the issue. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a recent hearing he would support legislation requiring women to register for the draft. Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, said he would also support such a change.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus was less certain and called for more discussion on the matter. 

"This needs to be looked at as part of a national debate, given the changed circumstances," he said. 

A different conversation
Coffman and his co-sponsors on the bill to drop the draft are steering clear of the women-in-combat controversy altogether and addressing the Selective Service System on its own merits. He believes the concept of conscription itself is antiquated. Additionally, selective service enrollment is required for many government employment and loan programs which means those who don't sign up miss out valuable economic resources. 

"Not only will abolishing the selective service save the U.S. taxpayers money, it will remove an undue burden on our nation's young people," DeFazio told The Wall Street Journal. "We haven't utilized the draft since 1973, yet young men who don't register for the selective service are still penalized by the U.S. government, particularly with regards to their federal student loans." 

Selective service costs over $20 million each year.