Reader asks question about reinstatement of draft

Times’ reader Sarge Kennedy of Alamo submitted a question to my Q&A forum about the status of the Universal National Service Act of 2006, a bill introduced in February 2006 by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. In particular, he wanted to know why he has not seen extensive coverage of the bill.

He’s right about the lack of coverage. I found only nine references to the bill using our subscription news service, Lexis-Nexis.

The legislation, or H.R. 4752, would “provide for the common defense by requiring all persons in the United States, including women, between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security.”

The bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

Bills receive little or no news coverage for a number of reasons. Most often, it’s because the bill has little chance of success. Lawmakers introduce hundreds of bills each session and it’s impossible to track them all. It’s also possible that a bill author intentionally keeps legislation low-profile — usually through late-night amendments — because it might attract too much or the wrong kind of coverage.

The former appears to be the case in this instance.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote on June 27 that Rangel himself did not expect the bill to pass. He was the only sponsor of the bill.

On Rangel’s website, he wrote, “I introduced my bill to reinstate the military draft in the hope that it would remind Americans that lives would be lost and the sacrifice should be shared by all. The greatest moral failure of this war is that the ultimate sacrifices are being demanded of volunteers who, due to lack of alternative opportunities, are willing to risk their lives for a chance to improve their economic circumstance and pursue the American Dream.”

The 2006 bill is an updated versions of a similar bill that Rangel introduced in 2003.

According to news accounts, House GOP leaders brought the first bill to the floor for a vote in 2004 — it failed 402-2 — to squash reports that the Bush administration sought to reinstate the draft.

The U.S. draft ended in 1973 at the end of the Vietnam War.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen