- (Photo: REUTERS/Department of Defense/Spc. Ryan Hallock)
The military draft registration, officially called the Selective Service, could be in for significant changes in the future. Some lawmakers are seeking to expand the draft to women to bolster gender equality in the armed services, but other politicians seek to abolish the Selective Service altogether.
The military draft registration expansion to women is being spearheaded by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. His National Universal Service Act, introduced 11 days ago, would require all U.S. citizens to give two years of service to the country as a civilian or in the military, according to ABC News. It would also be an extension of the Pentagon's lifting of the women's ban on combat.
"Every citizen who can meet the qualifications of service should have the opportunity to protect the nation," Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said during a press conference in January.
Rangel's push for women in the draft is supported by Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and the Service Women's Action Network.
"SWAN advocates for the inclusion of women into Selective Service," Anu Bhagwati, executive director of SWAN and a former Marine Corps captain, told NBC News. "Lifting the ban on women officially serving in combat is about giving qualified women the opportunity to serve and making our military stronger, and that would include having women register for Selective Service."
Other politicians, however, have called into question whether the U.S. needs a Selective Service at all. Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. and Mike Coffman, R-Colo., believe the military draft is a waste of money, especially since it hasn't been used since 1973. Furthermore, the penalties for failing to sign up for the draft- a felony and a fine of up to $250,000- hasn't been enforced by the Justice Department since 1986.
The bipartisan team has been quietly trying to abolish the Selective Service, which has a budget of $24 million and employs a full-time staff of 130. Were the draft to be reinstated, it would be their job to organize 11,000 volunteers and access their own database of 17 million potential male candidates.
"There is no one who wants this except chickenhawk members of Congress," DeFazio told the Associated Press, referring to representatives who have never themselves been in the armed forces.
Selective Service director Lawrence Romo disagrees, calling their small budget an "inexpensive insurance policy."
"We are the backup for the true emergency," Romo told AP.