Draft Bills Dead in California But Still Alive in Congress

A proposal to automatically register applicants for California driver’s licenses with the Selective Service System for a possible military draft was pulled by its author, Sen. Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera), just before a scheduled hearing today in the state Assembly Transportation Committee. This was the last scheduled meeting of that committee before the deadline for consideration of bills in this year’s legislative session, so the bill is effectively dead for the year.

Like similar laws in other states, California SB-1081 faced opposition from a coalition of peace, civil liberties, and immigrant rights organizations, on both policy and fiscal grounds. Pulling the bill before the hearing today was a face-saving way for Sen. Archuleta to avoid a vote by the committee not to advance his bill to the Assembly floor.

Meanwhile, however, an ill-considered proposal to try to automate draft registration introduced at the instigation of the Selective Service System by Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) remains under consideration as part of the House version of this year’s National Defense [sic] Authorization Act (NDAA), along with a proposal to expand draft registration to include young women as well as young men in the Senate version of the NDAA.

There’s a chance that both of these proposals for changes to Selective Service registration could be removed during back-room negotiations in the House-Senate conference committee on the NDAA later this year, after the elections. But we’ve seen this movie before. These bad ideas will be back again next year, regardless of which party wins which federal elections.

Preparation for a military draft, and reliance on the perceived availability of a fallback draft as the basis for planning of endless, unlimited, unpopular wars, won’t stop until Congress repeals the Military Selective Service Act and ends draft registration entirely, either through a standalone bill like the Selective Service Repeal Act or through a provision in this or a future year’s NDAA.

Edward Hasbrouck maintains the Resisters.info website and publishes the “Resistance News” newsletter. He was imprisoned in 1983-1984 for organizing resistance to draft registration.