A bipartisan group of four Congressmen have introduced a new bill aiming to preempt efforts to expand the Selective Service program by ending it outright, on the grounds that it is an outdated waste of money.
Selective Service requires all US men, at age 18, to register for the military draft, even though no actual draft has occurred since 1973. A rival bill from Reps. Duncan Hunter (R – CA) and Ryan Zinke (R – MT) aims to extend the registration to include women in the name of “fairness.”
Rep. Mike Coffman (R – CO) has been leading the call to end the program for a long time now, insisting that not only has there been no draft in over 40 years, but that the Pentagon has never even considered a shift away from the all-volunteer military back toward the use of conscripts.
Fellow author Rep. Pete DeFazio (D – OR) noted ending the program would save taxpayers money, and remove an undue burden on Americans to register. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R – CA), another of the bill’s authors, added that conscription was not consisting with America’s tradition of freedom and liberty.
Though conscription on a limited basis was used during the Civil War by both sides, the first massive use of the military draft in the US was World War 1, when the wildly unpopular war attracted almost no volunteers. Americans were also conscripted during World War 2, the Korean War, and finally the Vietnam War.
Though no drafts happened after the Vietnam War, in 1980 President Carter issued a presidential proclamation reinstating the Selective Service registration system. This was a response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.