January 16, 2009
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) likely will introduce his controversial legislation to reinstate the draft again this year, but he will wait until after the economic stimulus package is passed.
Asked if he plans to introduce the legislation again in 2009, Rangel last week said, “Probably … yes. I don’t want to do anything this early to distract from the issue of the economic stimulus.”
Rangel’s military draft bill did create a distraction for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) soon after Democrats won control of Congress after the 2006 election.
In the wake of that historic victory, Pelosi said publicly that she did not support the draft and that the Democratic leadership would not back Rangel’s legislation. She also said Rangel’s legislation was not about reinstating the draft but was instead “a way to make a point” about social inequality.
Reintroducing the military draft bill, which would attract media attention, will be trickier for Rangel in 2009 than it was a couple years ago because the Ways and Means Committee chairman is now under investigation by the House ethics committee.
Democratic leaders have given Rangel a leading role in helping craft the new economic stimulus bill despite an array of ethics allegations that have surfaced over the last several months. The charges have ranged from failing to report rental income on a villa in the Dominican Republic to an alleged quid pro quo involving a legislative favor for a donor to an education center bearing Rangel’s name.