Bill Introduced To End Draft Registration

Thursday, just before Congress recessed until the new year, U.S. Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) introduced H.R. 5492, a bill “To repeal the Military Selective Service Act, and thereby terminate the registration requirements of such Act and eliminate … the Selective Service System.”

This bill is the most comprehensive anti-draft proposal introduced in Congress since the reinstatement of Selective Service registration in 1980.

H.R. 5492 (text of bill) would:

  1. Repeal the Military Selective Service Act (thereby eliminating Presidential authority to order men to register with the Selective Service System for a possible military draft and eliminating criminal penalties for failure or refusal to register);

  2. Abolish the Selective Service System (thereby ending contingency planning by the SSS for the Health Care Personnel Delivery System or any other form of special-skills draft);

  3. Prohibit all other Federal agencies from imposing civil sanctions (denial of Federal student financial aid, Federally-funded jobs, etc.) for nonregistration or using nonregistration as a basis for other adverse determinations (denial of naturalization as a US citizen, etc.);

  4. “Preempt” (and thereby override and prohibit) all state sanctions for nonregistration (denial of drivers’ licenses, state financial aid, state jobs, etc.); and

  5. Preserve the rights of conscientious objectors under other laws and regulations (such as applicants for reassignment to noncombatant duties or discharge from the military on the basis of conscientious objection).

There have been other proposals over the decades to eliminate some of the penalties for nonregistration and/or to abolish the Selective Service System. But H.R. 5492 is the first such bill that would also do away with the lifetime sanctions for nonregistration imposed by dozens of state laws.

H.R. 5492 is based in part on a bill introduced in 2016, also co-sponsored by Rep. DeFazio among others. The latest bill is significantly more comprehensive, however, and includes everything that anti-draft and anti-war organizations and activists and Rep. DeFazio have asked the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service (NCMNPS) to include in its recommendations to Congress.

Getting this bill introduced in Congress and included in the proposals considered by the NCMNPS is a key step toward finally ending draft registration after forty years of failure. This is the first and currently the only proposal formally introduced in Congress for what Congress should do about draft registration once it receives the report of the NCMNPS.

Congress probably won’t take up this issue until after it receives the NCMNPS report and recommendations, which are required to be released by March 2020. Sometime after that — most likely after the elections, in late 2020 or perhaps more likely 2021 — Congress is likely to take up the issue of whether to end draft registration or try to extend it to young women as well as young men.

H.R. 5492 could be considered on its own, or incorporated into a larger bill such as one implementing recommendations of the NCMNPS (which might also contain additional funding for voluntary national service programs) or the annual omnibus National Defense Authorization Act (which was the bill used to create the NCMNPS in 2016).

Today, with the introduction of H.R. 5492, the report of the NCMNPS due in March 2020, and Congress likely to be forced by pending legal cases to choose between ending draft registration and trying to expand it to women as well as men, we are closer to ending draft registration than at any time since the requirement for all young men to register with the Selective Service System was reinstated in 1980.

Opponents of military conscription can take action now to help end draft registration, preparations for a military draft, and Federal and state punishment of draft registration resisters:

  1. If you can do so before the close of the NCMNPS public comment period on 31 December 2019 (perhaps while you are sending other end-of-year messages), ask the NCMNPS to recommend that Congress enact H.R. 5492. You can do so even if you already submitted a comment to the NCMNPS. It takes only a minute if you use this Web form.

  2. Ask your U.S. Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 5492. Ask your Senators to introduce a similar bill in the Senate. Ask candidates to take a stand on this issue: “If elected, would you support legislation to try to expand draft registration to women, or would you support legislation such as H.R. 5492 to end draft registration and abolish the Selective Service System?”

  3. If you are part of an organization that opposes military conscription, ask your group to endorse H.R. 5492. (If your group adopts a position or makes a statement on this issue, please let me know. Seeing more organizational endorsers for the bill might help influence more members of Congress to support or cosponsor the bill or a similar bill in the Senate.)

  4. Talk to your friends. Share this article. Pass out a leaflet. (More leaflets about the draft and draft registration)

Thanks to Rep. DeFazio, Rep. Davis, their staff, and all who worked with them to make this the best bill possible. Let’s get this enacted into law!

Edward Hasbrouck maintains the website and was one of the expert witnesses invited to testify before the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service. Reprinted with permission from Edward Hasbrouck’s website.

18 thoughts on “Bill Introduced To End Draft Registration”

    1. “It should already be banned under the 13th Amendment”

      As should every victimless crime law. A broad definition of involuntary servitude is “being forced to sacrifice your values for the sake of others.” But, as you stated, nobody pays much attention to the Constitution anymore.

  1. This is amazing. While many good bills have been introduced in Congress, and have then vanished into thin air once the establishment exerted pressure against them, the mere fact that a bill like this could be introduced is reason for celebration.

    Contrary to conventional wisdom, the military draft does not make it harder to fight a war, as the unlimited cannon fodder it lines up makes it much easier to fight a war.

    1. Borg, you are mistaken, having skin in the game makes all the difference! As long as NO deferments, NONE,,all go when called, unlike in the past!! :(

        1. Thomas, that was a cruel thing to say :( I realize if there was no draft the DC GHOULS would run even wilder than they do now, and if there was a draft the war would end soon, or never begin, because in the USA TODAY, a draft would excite major revolt, violence, and resistance. You really need to think much deeper my friend. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you. Follow the teaching of Jesus and there will be no war or violence or starvation.

      1. While I do not believe the draft makes it harder to fight a war, even if it did, I have stated many times that that would not justify it. Chattel slavery was considered of practical benefit to slave owners, but that was not justified either. Slavery comes back to you. Karma is Karma. We reap what we sow. Those who live by the sword, will perish by it. Those who enslave, will be enslaved.

  2. The fact that young men were drafted during the Vietnam War was a major cause of the opposition to the war. The volunteer army can be viewed as mercenaries and entertainment and makes war more palatable. Keep the draft, and there might actually be a reason for it.

  3. I think we have been operating our military fine since the 1970s without a draft. I am not sure a return to conscription will ever be needed again.

    Plus I even wonder how accurate the selective service database is as I bet many people fail to notify SSS that they have moved, as one former director pointed out and millennials and Gen Z are often on the move a lot during their college years. Plus, there is gender bias on the registration as some of the courts have ruled.

    Plus we are spending millions of taxpayer dollars on a database of young people that likely will never be used. I suspect that reinstating the draft would be political suicide for any politician that voted for it. And we are using this database to be a barrier for financial aid, drivers licenses, and others of one gender which is discriminatory.

    It is time for the selective service to be shut down.

  4. End the dehumanizing selective service act. The people who start wars do none of the fighting, maiming and dying. War is a ponzy scheme from the wealthy, lives lost for greed and mammon.

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