WASHINGTON — Two lawmakers are waging a little-noticed campaign to abolish the Selective Service System, the independent federal agency that manages draft registration.
U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Mike Coffman, R-Colo., said the millions of dollars the agency spends each year preparing for the possibility of a military draft is a waste. They said the Pentagon has no interest in returning to conscription due to the success of the all-volunteer force.
The Selective Service has a budget of $24 million and a full-time staff of 130. It maintains a database of about 17 million potential male draftees. In the event of a draft, the agency would mobilize as many as 11,000 volunteers to serve on local draft boards that would decide if exemptions or deferments to military service were warranted.
Men between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register and can do so online or by mail. Those who fail to register with the Selective Service can be charged with a felony. The Justice Department hasn’t prosecuted anyone for that offense since 1986.
But failing to register can mean the loss of financial aid for college, being refused employment with the federal government or being denied U.S. citizenship.
Past attempts to get rid of the agency have failed, DeFazio said, because too many of his colleagues on Capitol Hill worry that closing Selective Service will make them look weak on national security.