Rep. Charlie Rangel has no doubt that bringing back the military draft will make America safer.

He just hasn't had any success convincing other lawmakers that he's right.

"It would take a lot of courage for people to vote on this," the 84-year-old New York Democrat said in an interview with Military Times last week. "We wouldn't be in the mess we're in if [Congress] knew their kids might be drafted.

"I know this is the right thing to do."

Earlier this month, Rangel reintroduced legislation that would reinstate the military draft for all men and women ages 18 to 25, arguing that "if war is truly necessary, we must all come together to support and defend our nation."

It's an argument he has made year after year, with little progress. Since 2003, Rangel has introduced similar legislation seven times. The closest the idea came to a full chamber vote was nearly 12 years ago, when the measure failed a procedural vote on the House floor.

But Rangel — a Korean War veteran who volunteered to serve in the Army — keeps bringing it back.

"If we're going to get into wars, we have to be prepared to make sacrifices," he said. "It shouldn't just be poor-ass kids volunteering to do the work."

In past years, when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were at their peak, his pitch was fueled by the carnage and casualties of those conflicts. Now it's the possibility of extended military action in Iraq against Islamic State fighters.

He's also pushing for a new War Tax Act, mandating that current and future war spending be paid for with new taxes on all income brackets.

Every few years, the revived legislation grabs a few Capitol Hill headlines but little serious scrutiny. But there's little hope for either proposal in the Republican-controlled House, and Rangel's draft bills aren't expected to get a significant conversation at the committee level this year.

And military leaders repeatedly have shot down the idea, saying they now boast a much smaller but more highly trained and highly disciplined fighting force than they did before the draft was abolished in 1973.

But Rangel insists that the public is interested in a broader debate on the draft's merits — and the added pressure it would put on government bureaucrats contemplating military action anywhere in the world.

"I've been surprised the religious community hasn't called for it," he said. "The number of dead and wounded we've had in the recent wars … that's a hell of a thing to happen to our young people. It would seem to me religious leaders would see this as a way to keep us out of those fights."

Until he gets that kind of groundswell, Rangel said he's content to be the lonely Hill voice pushing the issue.

"You know I'm right. I know I'm right," he said. "We're getting somewhere on this issue, but Congress is not."

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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