Rangel’s call for new military draft rebuffed
Democratic Rep. Charles B. Rangel’s latest call to quickly restart the military draft was shot down on Nov. 20 by incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other party members,whosaiditwillnotbepartofthe Democrats’ legislative agenda.
New York’s Mr. Rangel periodically has urged a draft revival as a mechanism to criticize President Bush’s handling of military deploymentsinthewaronterrorism.Herenewed his call again on Nov. 19, sayingonCBS’“FacetheNation”that“if we’re going to challenge Iran and challenge North Korea and then, as some people have asked, send more troops to Iraq, we can’t do that without the draft. [. . . ] I will be introducingthatbillassoonaswestartthe new session.”
But Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, told reporters she does not favor the draft and has no plans to schedule a floor debate. And in the Senate, incoming Armed Services ChairmanCarlLevin,MichiganDemocrat, also dismissed the idea.
“I don’t think we need it,” he told reporters.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, California Republican, disagreed with Mr. Rangel’s long-held position that the burden of fighting wars fall disproportionately on low-income people.AstudybytheconservativeHeritage Foundation concluded that the children of higher-income parents increased their enlistment numbers after the September 11 attack.
Mr.Huntersaidhissonleftacivil- ian job to serve in Iraq and that several committee members have sons fighting in the war.
Mr.Rangel,anIraqwarcriticwho will become chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, urged a new draft during the 2004 presidential election. Other Democrats floated a rumor that the Bush ad- ministration plotted behind the scenes to institute compulsory service because of missed recruiting goals.
The Republican leadership quicklymovedforafloorvotethatOctober. Then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, said ofDemocrats,“We’vehadenoughof that. We’re going to call them on it. The Democrats are the only people that have a bill instituting the draft. We’re going to bring it out there, and we’re going to put a nail in it.”
Mr. Rangel’s proposal, which would draft women as well as men, was defeated 402-2. He even voted against it, saying Republicans brought up the bill up as a political stunt.Rep.JohnP.Murtha,Pennsylvania Democrat, who subsequently called for an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq, and Rep. Pete Stark, California Democrat, voted in favor of the bill.
The all-volunteer force began when President Nixon ended the draftin1973,morethan30yearsafter President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered it to prepare for World War II. The draft was suspended after the war, but restarted in 1948. Women were exempt.
Mr.RangelarguedonNov.19that “there’s no question in my mind that thispresidentandthisadministration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeedwehadadraftandmembersof Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way.”
He added, “I think at a time where national security is so important, having our young people commit themselves to a couple of years in service of this great republic, whether it’s our seaports, our airports, in schools, in hospitals and at the end of that to provide some educational benefits is the best thing for our young people and the best thing for our country.”