Selective Service amendment would not reinstate draft

The US House of Representatives passed a measure in June 2024 to automate the Selective Service System process, and social media posts claim this indicates a military draft is imminent. However, registration is already mandatory under current law, and the legislation does not call for conscription but would automatically enroll young men in the database of those eligible for service if Congress voted to reinstate a draft.

"BREAKING: House passes military bill automatically registering men 18-26 for draft. War is coming..." says an X post shared on June 15, 2024.

Screenshot of an X post taken June 21, 2024

Other posts spreading the claim circulated on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.

As the United States continues to support Ukraine in its war against Russia and Middle East ally Israel as it fights Hamas in Gaza following the October 7 attacks, the claims of a military draft sparked criticism of President Joe Biden's administration as he gears up for a rematch against Donald Trump in the November election.

"To all the IDIOTS who thought Trump's tweets were 'too mean' - congrats! Now you get to fight and die in a war to protect the Biden family's money laundering," says a June 15 Instagram post reacting to the social media claim, shared by conservative commentator Rogan O'Handley to his 2.6 million followers.

However, these claims misrepresent legislation designed to streamline already mandatory Selective Service registration.

On June 14, 2024, the House passed HR 8070, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2025 (archive here). A version of this bill is passed annually, laying out the US military budget, and must be authorized by Congress. 

This year's version of the bill includes a provision that caught attention online: it would automatically register all men between the ages of 18 and 25 for the Selective Service System, a federal program that maintains a database of eligible men for military service.

But the bill does not call for an actual draft or enlistment and is not yet law, as it must also pass the Senate before being signed into law by the president (archived here). 

"Under current law, men who are US citizens between the ages of 18-25 are required to register for the selective service," a spokesperson for the House Armed Services Committee said on June 21, 2024.

The provision in the NDAA would automate this process, which is currently a requirement according to the Military Selective Service Act (archived here and here). It is a federal felony for men who fall within this demographic to fail to register (archived here).

"Failure to register for the Selective Service can impact employment and the ability to receive government assistance but sometimes young men are unaware they need to register for the Selective Service until it's too late. This provision would eliminate those future headaches," the spokesperson said. 

Many states already automatically register men when they apply for a driver's license (archived here).

The spokesperson also pointed out that the United States has not had "an active draft in over 50 years. Establishing a draft would require an Act of Congress."

More of AFP's reporting on US politics can be found here.

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