Amid discussions of whether women should be forced to register for the military draft, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced legislation to abolish the Selective Service System.
Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) say their legislation is necessary because the Selective Service System is outdated and would be ineffective in a wartime emergency.
“Maintaining the Selective Service simply makes no sense,” Coffman (R-Colo.), a Marine veteran, said in a statement. “In 1973, the last draftee entered the Army and since then, despite the first Gulf War and subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon has never considered reinstituting the draft. Our all-volunteer military has given us the most elite fighting force in the history of this country.”
Currently, the Selective Service System is maintained at an annual taxpayer cost of about $23 million.
Even though the draft system remains in place, the Government Accountability Office has reported that enacting a draft today would be a slow and expensive process. GAO estimated in 2012 that it would cost $465 million and take longer than 193 days to get the first soldiers on the battlefield in the event of a draft.
The lawmakers also argue that the draft is inconsistent with “America’s best tradition of freedom and liberty.”
“We haven’t utilized the draft since 1973, yet young men who don’t register for the Selective Service are still penalized by the U.S. government, particularly with regards to their federal student loans,” DeFazio said. “We need to get rid of this mean-spirited and outdated system and trust that if the need should arise Americans — both male and female — will answer the call to defend our nation.”