Help Congress balance the budget: Shut down Selective Service and the Fantasy Draft!

The tension surrounding the budget has not lessened because of the events of Friday, April 8, 2011.  The 2011 budget may be resolved, but the 2012 fight has just begun.  Members of Congress and special interest groups (including the Selective Service) are pulling out their knives to cut everything except what they personally care about. 

But there is an easy source of savings of $25 million dollars: Cut Selective Service and the fantasy draft.

CCW reported a couple of months ago that Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado) had introduced legislation (H.R. 621) that would shut down the Selective Service System (SSS) and end draft registration.

Passage of this bill would free up $25 million to help resolve the budget crisis!

A vote on this bill is expected in the subcommittee as early as May 4, and if it passes, it should go before the full House Armed Services Committee on May 11, to the full house before the end of May, and then to the Senate.

Contact your representatives in Congress and tell them now is the time to end Selective Service and end the burden that registration puts on our nation’s young people.

The arguments for passage are clear: The Selective Service spends $25 million a year setting up lists and regulations for a draft that has not come in more than 30 years and is unlikely to come now.  Even if it did come, with the laws remaining on the books, it would take a few months at most to reconstitute the agency and start up a draft.  Really Selective Service is spending $25 million justifying its existence.

Meanwhile, thousands of young men are coerced into registering and others are penalized for life for failing to register.

Gil Coronado, SSS Director in 1999 warned about the penalties and high rate of non-compliance (which would be overturned by this bill): “Unless we are successful in achieving high registration compliance, America may be on the verge of creating a permanent underclass.”

Just this week the Center received yet another call from an over-age non-registrant.  This one is a 45 year old who is trying to finance medical school. Because of his conscientious objection to the draft registration he is now permanently barred from receiving any federal government assistance for his education.  Passage of H.R. 621 would solve his problem by ending these laws that are, in fact, creating a permanent underclass.

The arguments against H.R. 621 are misleading.  Currently registration compliance is at 91%, a number Selective Service says is high enough to validate their work.  By interpreting registration as support for Selective Service, it claims that dismantling SSS “is not the position of America’s youth.”

However, the reality is that coercion is a major factor in getting people to register.  According to the SSS FY 2010 Annual Report, 33% of registrations came from those applying for drivers’ licenses, and 24% came from the Dept. of Education (from when students filled out the FAFSA to get scholarships) so the majority of those who registered did so either unintentionally or because of coercion.  If anything, the registration data shows that “America’s youth” do not support the Selective Service registration!

Contact your representatives in Congress and urge them to help reduce the budget crisis by ending the registration and deauthorizing the Selective Service System.  Conscription has no place in a free and democratic society.  Supporting H.R. 621 would accomplish several objectives that are important in our current political and economic climate!

You may also want to—as we encouraged you earlier this week—to express your concern to your elected representatives that SSS, as a government agency, is apparently using taxpayers’ money in an attempt to sway Congress and convince them of the importance of SSS.  Their message to the “SSS family” which included draft board members and regional offices encouraged them to contact their representatives in Congress to oppose H.R. 621.  The message said “THIS IS NOT A DRILL!” and called this an “ALL HANDS ON DECK TIME!” (capitalization their emphasis) This use of taxpayers’ money is an apparent violation of the Anti-Lobbying Act.

Please forward this alert to others who share your concerns.

Center on Conscience & War