Rep. Chrissy Houlahan Faces Backlash For Automatic Draft Registration Proposal

Democratic lawmaker Rep. Chrissy Houlahan is facing significant backlash after proposing automatic draft registration amid the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict. Houlahan’s proposal would automatically register all men who turn 18 into the draft, replacing the current system where men aged 18 to 25 are required to “voluntarily” register with Selective Service.

Houlahan has previously supported legislation that would require women to also register for the draft. Last week, she argued that automatic draft registration would save money on “readiness and towards mobilization” instead of spending on “education and advertising campaigns driven to register people” for the draft, according to Task & Purpose.

Only 84 percent of qualified men signed up for Selective Service in 2022, and the Selective Service is expected to spend $33 million this year to improve registration compliance rates. A congressional aide for Houlahan stated, “We really sort of saw this as a chance to both save government resources, save taxpayer dollars, and to help young men avoid the special challenges later in life that can come from not having registered.”

However, most U.S. states, four territories, and Washington D.C. already automatically register eligible men for Selective Service when they obtain a driver’s license or other motor vehicle-related identification. Men who fail to sign up face repercussions such as ineligibility for federal student aid, federal agency jobs, and security clearances. They can also face five years in prison or fines, according to Task & Purpose.

Houlahan’s proposal has sparked intense backlash, with critics questioning why it does not include women and criticizing the automation of draft registration.

This development comes as Ukraine recently fired a U.S.-manufactured missile into Russia for the first time. “It was the first time a Ukrainian official has acknowledged publicly that Ukraine had used American weapons to fire into Russia since President Biden lifted the ban on such strikes,” the New York Times reported.

The Biden administration had previously maintained a ban on such strikes to avoid escalating tensions with a nuclear-armed nation. However, Ukraine requested the ban be lifted after Russia began attacking Kharkiv earlier this month. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hinted at the policy change last week, stating, “We haven’t encouraged or enabled strikes outside of Ukraine, but Ukraine, as I’ve said before, has to make its own decisions about the best way to effectively defend itself.”

Blinken added, “As the conditions have changed, as the battlefield has changed, as what Russia does has changed in terms of how it’s pursuing its aggression, escalation, we’ve adapted and adjusted too, and I’m confident we’ll continue to do that.”