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Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill Would End Selective Service

Washington Report

Bipartisan legislation introduced in the House and Senate last week would abolish the Selective Service.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., the sponsors of the Selective Service Repeal Act, said the agency was no longer needed.

“The Selective Service has far outlived its expiration date, wasting millions of taxpayer dollars per year to prepare for a draft is no longer relevant to our military,” Wyden said.

“It has been nearly 50 years since the draft was last used,” Paul said. “I’ve long stated that if a war is worth fighting, Congress will vote to declare it and people will volunteer. This outdated government program no longer serves a purpose and should be eliminated permanently.”

Selective Service has an annual budget of roughly $25 million, according to the release and published reports.

About 150 drilling National Guardsmen and Reserve are assigned to the Selective Service System. They would mobilize and help administer the draft, should one be necessary.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has asked the Supreme Court to let Congress resolve the potential constitutional problem of a male-only draft.

Acting Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar filed a legal brief last week in a case challenging whether the current system, which requires only that men ages 18 to 25 register, is unconstitutional, according to Military Times.

Prelogar wrote that since Congress is considering requiring women to sign up as well, the high court should let lawmakers resolve the matter.

“Congress’s attention to the question may soon eliminate any need for the court to grapple with that constitutional question,” she wrote.

The American Civil Liberties Union, representing the National Coalition for Men, filed the current petition Jan. 8 after a lower court ruled the draft unconstitutional for not including women.

In February former, National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal and eight other prominent retired general and flag officers signed on in support of the ACLU’s petition.

The ACLU’s filing offers options for Congress, including extending Selective Service registration to women and eliminating the registration requirement, which would effectively abolish the draft.

In early 2020, a report by the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service recommended that women register for future military drafts.

The report pointed to a 2016 Pentagon assessment, which showed only about a third of those aged 17 to 24 would be eligible to serve, roughly half of them women.