The House of Representatives passed the 2006 military authorization bill late yesterday without an amendment to restrict women’s roles in the military. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who proposed an amendment initially that would have required Congress to vote on any expansion of women in combat positions, offered a scaled back version yesterday, requiring 60 days’ notice given to Congress before a position is opened or closed to women, reports the New York Times. The amendment also asks that the defense secretary review the implementation of the 1994 policy on women in combat.
The Washington Post reports that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld disagreed with previous versions of the amendment, likely because of the outcry from military leadership, and that Rumsfeld worked with Hunter to eliminate any ban on women’s service from the legislation. Congresswoman Heather A. Wilson (R-NM), the only female veteran in Congress, told the Post that with men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, Congress “should not do anything to indicate that we do not appreciate their service.” Congresswoman Ellen O. Tauscher (D-CA) called the passed version “an improvement,” but said, “This situation is like the schoolyard bully taking your lunch money, getting caught, giving you half back, and then asking you to thank him for it.”