Friday, 20 December 2019

Bill introduced to end draft registration

Yesterday, 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 U.S. 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 co-sponsor 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!

Link | Posted by Edward on Friday, 20 December 2019, 05:28 ( 5:28 AM)

Reprinted at

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 20 December 2019, 09:44 ( 9:44 AM)

Letter from Rep. DeFazio to the NCMNPS transmitting a copy of H.R. 5492:

"I urge the Commission to recommend that the SSS be disbanded and repealed, use H.R. 5492 as a legislative roadmap for achieving this goal, and include this bill as part of your legislative proposals in your March 2020 Final Report."

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 20 December 2019, 19:03 ( 7:03 PM)

My letter to the NCMNPS supporting H.R. 5492:

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 23 December 2019, 08:39 ( 8:39 AM)

A draft is a form of involuntary servitude. It should already be banned under the 13th Amendment.

Posted by: Sanjeev , 24 December 2019, 10:19 (10:19 AM)

"Repeal the U.S. Military Selective Service Act" (includes form to e-mail the NCMNPS and your representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate):

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 30 December 2019, 08:24 ( 8:24 AM)

"It’s time to repeal the Selective Service Act" (Op-Ed by Rev. John Buttrick, Conconr [NH] Monitor, 19 January 23020):

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 19 January 2020, 12:32 (12:32 PM)

"Veterans For Peace calls on the government of the United States to immediately revoke the Selective Service Act."

(Resolution approved by vote of the membership of Veterans for Peace, 2012)

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 22 January 2020, 10:29 (10:29 AM)

My Representative in Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has not responded to repeated requests from constituents for a meeting with her staff to discuss her position on Selective Service registration and contingency planning for military conscription. Her opponent in the 2020 Democratic Party primary, Shahid Buttar, has said that if elected, he would "absolutely" support legislation such as H.R. 5492:

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 25 January 2020, 11:57 (11:57 AM)

"Dear Colleague" letter to members of the House of Representatives from Rep. Peter DeFazio seeking additional co-sponsors of H.R. 5492:

Posted by: Edward Hasbrouck, 4 February 2020, 20:49 ( 8:49 PM)

"Take a Stand for Peace and Get Rid of the Draft" (Friends Committee on National Legislation, 21 Fe bruary 2020):

Posted by: Edward Hasbnrouck, 28 February 2020, 09:37 ( 9:37 AM)
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