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Congressman Charles Rangel

Representing the 13th District of New York

Rangel Introduces New Bill to Reinstate Military Draft

January 11, 2007
Press Release

Legislation Would Require National Service for All U.S. Residents, Including Mandatory Military Service for Some During Wartime. Congressman Rangel released the following statement:

I have reintroduced my bill to reinstate the draft, not because I support the war in Iraq or the President's plan to escalate the conflict.  The reason is my belief that if Americans are to be placed in harm's way, all of us, from every income group and position in society, must share the burden of war.

That has not been the case so far.  The overwhelming majority of our troops fighting in Iraq are young men and women who have chosen to enlist because military service is an economic opportunity. They are motivated by enlistment bonuses up to $40,000 and additional thousands in scholarships to attend college. They are from urban and rural communities where there is high unemployment and few opportunities to pursue the American Dream.  My colleague, Congressman Ike Skelton, has confirmed that fact while pointing out the patriotism of these young men and women, and I agree with him.

It is time that all Americans--including the wealthy--be given the opportunity to prove their patriotism as well, by saluting when the flag goes up and defending their country in wartime.  A military draft would ensure that.

My bill requires that, during wartime, all legal residents of the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 42 would be subject to a military draft, with the number determined by the President.  No deferments would be allowed beyond the completion of high school, up to age 20, except for conscientious objectors or those with health problems.  A permanent provision of the bill mandates that those not needed by the military be required to perform two years of civilian service in our sea and airports, schools, hospitals, and other facilities.                                                 

I don't see how anyone who supports the War in Iraq would not support reinstatement of the draft.

The President announced last night his intention to send an additional 21,000 U.S. troops to Iraq. The military is at the breaking point with more than 50 percent of our combat troops already deployed in Iraq. The question is:  where will the additional troops--including those that may follow if the war is escalated further--come from? 

The 21,000 soldiers that the President was talking about will not be fresh troops.  Many of them are already on the ground in Iraq and will have their deployments extended.  Almost 250,000 of the troops currently deployed in Iraq have served more than one tour, and some have been deployed as many as six times. 

Since the start of the war, more than 14,000 discharged army veterans--members of the Individual Ready Reserve--have been called back from their jobs and families to serve in Iraq.  Thousands have had their tours extended under so-called stop-loss orders.

The forced, repeated deployments of nominally volunteer troops not only violates the spirit of the contract with these soldiers, it is a cruel and unfair  erosion of the principle of shared sacrifice which has been totally absent in the prosecution of this war.

Last night President Bush warned the nation that we are in for further sacrifices in Iraq.  But the truth is, the sacrifice is being borne exclusively by the 1 million-plus troops who have served, and their families.  Three thousand have made the ultimate sacrifice and 22,000 have been wounded and maimed. 

The rest of us have not been called upon to make any sacrifice at all.  It is the first time in an American war in which the populace has not even been asked to bear the burden of the war's cost.  Fighting this war with borrowed money, we are leaving our children and their children to pick up the check that as of now is roughly $500 billion,
and counting.

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