Ran­gel’s call for new mil­i­tary draft re­buffed

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Rowan Scar­bor­ough and Amy Fa­gan

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.”

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