Sending Office: Honorable Peter A. DeFazio
Sent By:

        Request for Cosponsor(s)

It is beyond time to end the unneeded, unwanted, archaic, wasteful, and potentially unconstitutional draft registration system

Endorsing Organizations: World BEYOND War, Center on Conscience & War,

Cosponsors: Davis (IL)*, Massie, Blumenauer, DeSaulnier, Lofgren

Dear Colleague,

I invite you to cosponsor
H.R. 5492
, legislation which would abolish the military Selective Service System (SSS). The SSS is the registration system which requires all men aged 18 to 25 to register for a potential military draft.

As you may know, the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service (NCMNPS) is currently reviewing the SSS to determine whether to abolish the SSS altogether or to require women to register with the SSS as well. It will issue its legislative
proposals in late March. That’s why it is imperative that Members of Congress demonstrate to the NCMNPS that there is wide, bipartisan support for abolishing the draft registration system altogether.

Why should the Selective Service System be repealed?

1. The SSS subjects individuals to unnecessarily severe penalties:

Currently, men who fail to register with the SSS can be severely penalized by the U.S. government. This could include years in prison, hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in fines, and the denial of federal loans, grants, benefits, citizenship, job training,
and federal employment. Various state laws also penalize individuals for failing to register with the SSS, including denial of driver’s licenses, state employment, and other services.
More often than not, low-income Americans are the ones most adversely impacted by these severe penalties.

2. We’ve known for five decades that the SSS is redundant and unnecessary:

The draft was last utilized in 1973, during the Vietnam War. President Nixon created an all-volunteer force in 1973, and President Ford permanently suspended draft registration in 1975.

The Pentagon, Republican and Democratic administrations, and Congress have consistently agreed there is no military or national security imperative to reinstate the draft. I learned this firsthand during the Carter administration while serving
as a congressional aide to Oregon Congressman Jim Weaver, when I obtained a draft copy of then-SSS Director Bernard Rostker’s report stating that draft “registration was redundant and unnecessary.” Congressman Weaver entered this report,
which the Carter administration tried to hide, into the Congressional Record.

Unfortunately, despite all evidence demonstrating it was unneeded, President Carter reinstated draft registration in 1980 largely for political reasons. The SSS has existed ever since.

3. The SSS unconstitutionally violates Americans’ civil liberties:

Coercing Americans into the military – absent an extreme national emergency – has no place in a free and democratic society. Civil liberties organizations such as the ACLU oppose the SSS because involuntary military conscription is a violation of fundamental
civil liberties and Americans’ constitutional rights.

4. The SSS is a wasteful bureaucracy:

The SSS has cost well over $800 million over the last 35 years. Eliminating this obsolete program will save American taxpayers more than $225 million over ten years.

Specifically, H.R. 5492 would:

  • Repeal the Military Selective Service Act (MSSA), which created the SSS.
  • Eliminate all penalties for individuals who failed to register with the SSS and ensure there is uniform protection from these penalties in all U.S. states and territories.
  • Maintain the federal protections for conscientious objectors contained in the MSSA.

Our professional, all-volunteer military is the finest fighting force in the world. Recruits must compete under exacting standards in order to enlist, which is why military leaders have said time and time again they believe in and prefer an all-volunteer
military. What we already knew in the 1970s is still true today: the SSS is an unnecessary, unwanted, archaic, wasteful, and potentially unconstitutional program whose funding could be better spent on encouraging and enhancing public service or reducing our
federal deficit.

If you would like to cosponsor or have any questions, please reach out to Bobby Puckett at or 5-6386.

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Armed Services, Civil Rights, Foreign Affairs, Government, Judiciary, Veterans

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