Women may not have to register for the draft after all, if House Republicans get their way.

Republican members of the House Rules Committee during a late Monday meeting stripped provisions from the annual defense authorization bill that would have required women to register for the Selective Service System.

The controversial provision narrowly passed the House Armed Services Committee last month, and was expected to be a major point of debate on the defense policy bill this week.

But Rules Committee members instead voted to cut off consideration of the issue on the House floor and strike that entire section of the bill. The unusual but not unprecedented procedural move avoids what could be a thorny debate for both parties over women’s rights and roles in the military.

Democrats decried it as cowardice by Republican leaders.

“This is a dead-of-night attempt to take an important issue off the table, and I think people will probably see through this tactic,” said House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith, D-Wash.

The idea to make women register for the draft was introduced last month by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., as part of an effort to highlight problems with the Pentagon’s decision to open all combat roles to women earlier this year. He voted against the idea, but it passed anyway.

Since then, conservative Republicans have scrambled to find ways to remove the provision from the annual military budget policy measure.