Federal Legislation
March 14, 2003

H.R. 163—Universal National Service Act of 2003

Action Requested:
None at this time. This bill failed to pass the House.

Official purpose: 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.

The language of this bill mandates a national service obligation for every U.S. citizen and permanent resident, aged 18-26. It authorizes the President to establish both the number of people to be selected for military service, and the means of selection. Additionally, the measure requires those not selected specifically for military service to perform their national service obligation in a civilian capacity for at least two years.

H.R. 163 language permits:

  • Deferments for education only through high school graduation, or until the age of 20.
  • Exceptions are made for those with 1) extreme hardship, or 2) physical or mental disability.
  • Conscientious objectors are defined and directed by the Military Selective Service Act (50 U.S.C. 456(j)).

    Introduced: January 7, 2003 by Rep. Charles B. Rangel [NY-15]

    Cosponsors: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:HR00163:@@@P (14)

    01/07/2003Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services.
    02/03/2003Executive Comment Requested from DOD.
    02/03/2003Referred to the Subcommittee on Total Force.
    10/05/2004 5:59pm: Mr. McHugh moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill.
    10/05/20046:00pm: Considered under suspension of the rules.
    10/05/2004 7:27pm: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Failed by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 2 - 402 (Roll no. 494).

    Bill Summary and Status

     Other Resources

    House Rejects Bill to Restart Military Draft — (10/06/2004)

    Setting the Record Straight About a Military Draft — (09/14/2004)

    H.R. 163   (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

    S. 89 (Bill information)