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Public Statements

Universal National Service Act of 2003

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


UNIVERSAL NATIONAL SERVICE ACT OF 2003 -- (House of Representatives - October 05, 2004)

Mr. McHUGH. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 163) to provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes.

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Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise to oppose H.R. 163 in the strongest possible terms. The draft, whether for military purposes or for some form of "national service," violates the basic moral principles of individual liberty upon which this country was founded. Furthermore, the military neither wants nor needs a draft.

The Department of Defense, in response to calls to reinstate the draft has confirmed that conscription serves no military need. Defense officials from both parties have repudiated the need to reinstate the draft. For example, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has said that, "The disadvantages of using compulsion to bring into the armed forces the men and women needed are notable," while President William Clinton's Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera, in a speech before the National Press Club, admitted that, "Today, with our smaller, post-Cold War armed forces, our stronger volunteer tradition and our need for longer terms of service to get a good return on the high, up-front training costs, it would be even harder to fashion a fair draft."

However, the most important reason to oppose H.R. 163 is that a draft violates the very principals of individual liberty upon which our nation was founded. Former President Ronald Reagan eloquently expressed the moral case against the draft in the publication Human Events in 1979: "..... [conscription] rests on the assumption that your kids belong to the State. If we buy that assumption then it is for the State-not for parents, the community, the religious institutions or teachers-to decide who shall have what values and who shall do what work, when, where and how in our society. That assumption isn't a new one. The Nazis thought it was a great idea."

Some say the 18 year old draftee "owes it" to his (or her, since N.R. 163 makes woman eligible for the draft) country. Hogwash! It just as easily could be argued that a 50 year-old chicken-hawk, who promotes war and places the danger on innocent young people, owes more to the country than the 18 year-old being denied his (or her) liberty.

All drafts are unfair. All 18 and 19 year olds are never drafted. By its very nature a draft must be discriminatory. All drafts hit the most vulnerable young people, as the elites learn quickly how to avoid the risks of combat.

Economic hardship is great in all wars and cannot be minimized. War is never economically beneficial except for those in position to profit from war expenditure. The great tragedy of war is that is enables the careless disregard for civil liberties of our own people. Abuses of German and Japanese Americans in World War I and World War II are well known.

But the real sacrifice comes with conscription-forcing a small number of young vulnerable citizens to fight the wars that older men and women, who seek glory in military victory without themselves being exposed to danger, promote. The draft encourages wars with neither purpose nor moral justification and that are too often not even declared by the Congress.

Without conscription, unpopular wars are difficult to fight. Once the draft was undermined in the 1960s and early 1970s, the Vietnam War came to an end. But most importantly, liberty cannot be preserved by tyranny. A free society must always resort to volunteers. Tyrants think nothing of forcing men to fight and serve in wrongheaded wars. A true fight for survival and defense of America would elicit, I am sure, the assistance of every able-bodied man and woman. This is not the case for wars of mischief far away from home in which we have experienced often in the past century.

A government that is willing to enslave some of its people can never be trusted to protect the liberties of its own citizens. I hope all my colleagues join me in standing up for individual liberty and to shut down this un-American relic of a bygone era and help realize the financial savings and the gains to individual liberties that can be achieved by ending Selective Service registration.

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