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Rangel Introduces Legislation Reinstating Draft And Requiring Women To Register In Selective Service System

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Charles B. Rangel introduced legislation on Friday that would reintroduce the draft and would require all women to register for the Selective Service. These two bills aim to challenge the decisions that are made to send our troops into harm's way. Ten years ago on February 15, 2003, fifteen million people across 800 cities protested the invasion of Iraq, making it the largest antiwar rally in history. 

"Now that women can serve in combat they should register for the Selective Service alongside their male counterparts," said Rangel. "Reinstating the draft and requiring women to register for the Selective Service would compel the American public to have a stake in the wars we fight as a nation. We must question why and how we go to war, and who decides to send our men and women into harm's way."

The National Universal Service Act (H.R 747), also known as the "draft" bill, would require 30 million people in the United States between the ages of 18 and 25 to perform two years of national service in either the armed services or in civilian life. It would build upon the community service infrastructure already in place such as the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps, as well as local initiatives such as NYC Serve. The National Universal Service Act was first introduced in 2003 at the height of protest against going to war with Iraq, and was reintroduced in 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2011.

Rangel's All American Selective Service Act (H.R. 748) would require women to enroll in the Selective Service System, which would double the number of registrants. The current law requires only men ages 18 to 25 to register, and there are approximately 13.5 million in the registry.

"I served in Korea, and understand that sometimes war is inevitable," Rangel continued. "However military engagement should be our last resort. If we must go to war, every American should be compelled to stop and think twice about whether it is worth sending our brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters to fight. Currently less than one percent of America's population is unfairly shouldering the burden of war."

The Iraq war took more than 4,422 lives and wounded some 32,000 in nine years; to date, 2,168 American soldiers have died and 18,215 have been wounded in Afghanistan. More than one out of four members of the Armed Forces returning from their tours of duty suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among other ailments.