[JURIST] US Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) [official website] said Sunday he plans to introduce legislation in the next session of Congress to reinstate the military draft in the United States. Interviewed on CBS TV program Face the Nation [program website; interview video], he said that military conscription would prompt lawmakers to think differently about deploying US troops abroad: "There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way." He also pointed to low troop levels as antithetical to long-term US interests: "If we're going to challenge Iran and challenge North Korea and then, as some people have asked, to send more troops to Iraq, we can't do that without a draft." Rangel, the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee [official website], nonetheless added that his bill would only require "a couple of years in service to this great republic, whether it's our seaports, our airports, in schools, in hospitals" and would not necessarily entail combat service for all draftees.
Rangel, a Korean War veteran, has been an outspoken critic of the Iraq war from its inception. He has repeatedly pointed to the disparity of the burden of military service, as the armed forces are largely comprised of lower-income citizens. In 2004, he sponsored HR 163 [text], which would have required every US citizen and resident between the ages of 18 and 26, including women, to perform a two-year period of national service. The bill was roundly defeated in the House. Polls suggest that up to 70 percent of Americans oppose a reinstatement of the draft. AP has more.