Taxpayer's Tab: Expand or Repeal the Selective Service?

Vol. 4 Issue 11 March 28, 2013

Welcome to The Taxpayer's Tab -- the weekly newsletter for up-to-the-minute research from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation's BillTally Project. For more information, check out NTUF's BillTally Project and our partner,!


Head-To-Head Bills:
Expand or Repeal the Selective Service?

The Selective Service is a federal registry for most male citizens and non-citizens between the ages of 18 and 25. Should it be necessary during a time of war or national emergency, these individuals can be placed in a lottery system to be drafted into military service. According to the Selective Service, nearly 15 million men are currently on file. The following bills would either expand or eliminate the agency:

The Bill: H.R. 748, the Universal National Service Act

Annualized Cost: $4.9 billion (first-year cost)

Sponsored by Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY), the Universal National Service Act would make two significant reforms that would expand the Selective Service System. First, the bill would require women to register. Representative Rangel said "[n]ow that women can serve in combat they should register for the Selective Service alongside their male counterparts." He estimates that the expansion would double the pool of potential draftees to approximately 27 million Americans (including citizens and immigrant non-citizens). Congressman Rangel also proposed this measure alone in a separate bill, H.R. 747, in the 113th Congress.

Second, H.R. 748 would also require every person between the ages of 18 and 25 who resides in the U.S. to perform a two-year period of national service, either through the military or in a civilian government (federal, state, or local) role with a focus on meeting "human, educational, environmental, or public safety needs." Students in high school or post-secondary schools could be granted deferments, but would still be required to complete their national service before the age of 24 (or when their studies are complete). Military branches would still have recruitment quota limits, unless they are in need of more personnel or if the nation is in a state of war or national emergency. Ultimately, the President would determine which tasks or agencies would receive the influx of new government workers if H.R. 748 is enacted.

Citing a 2003 Government Accountability Office report and a 1988 Department of Defense estimate, NTUF determined that H.R. 748 would increase federal spending by at least $4.9 billion in the first fiscal year. The figure is adjusted for inflation from previous estimate.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit


The Bill: H.R. 978, National Emergency Selective Service Act

Annualized Savings: $24 million (first-year savings)

The Selective Service employs 130 full-time employees to manage a system that has been in existence for 96 years. The independent agency maintains the database of all males ages 18 to 25 and would facilitate a compulsory draft in the event the country needed more military recruits.

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO) has introduced H.R. 978 to deauthorize and defund the Selective Service System. If the measure was enacted, the President would still be able to institute a military draft, but only after declaring a state of national emergency. Representative Coffman said that "[i]n a bygone era, the draft played an important role in securing our nation. However, given the state of our modern military, we do not need Selective Service. Even at the heights of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our military never requested conscription."

According to the Selective Service website, Congress authorized $24 million for the agency in Fiscal Year 2012. NTUF determined that defunding the program would translate into a $24 million federal spending reduction.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit


The Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 824, the Federal Workforce Reduction Through Attrition Act

Annualized Savings: $6.9 billion ($34.6 billion over five years)

The Federal Workforce Reduction Through Attrition Act would limit the federal government to hiring only one full-time employee for every three that retire or leave service. The hiring restriction would remain in effect until the federal government reduces its workforce by ten percent. The bill requires that all the reductions occur within three years of the bill becoming law. If the actual attrition rate is lower than the expected decreases, a hiring freeze would be instituted until the reductions are met. The President would be able to waive the bill's requirements in the event of war or national emergency.

The sponsor of the bill, Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), said that H.R. 824 would be a "solution that requires nothing more than the federal government doing what any business, state or local government would do to cut costs -- limit new hires. Instead of blindly filling empty desks, [H.R. 824] forces agencies to take a step back, consider which positions are crucial, and make decisions based on necessity rather than luxury."

According to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate of a bill in the previous Congress, H.R. 3029, enacting H.R. 824 would result in a $34.6 billion net reduction in federal spending in the FY 2013-2017 period. Spending would decrease as fewer federal employees receive salaries and benefits. Changes to general personnel-related service contracts could also reduce outlays, though CBO reports that the extent of such savings are uncertain. The agreements provide services and supplies for employees. New mandatory reports on the effects of the reduction on various programs, activities, and services would increase spending by an additional $5 million.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit


Most Friended

The Bill: H.R. 1199, the Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2013

Annualized Cost: "No Cost" -- Regulatory

Number of Cosponsors: 82 Congressmen

There has been a concerted effort in recent years to address incidences of bullying among American youth. Some psychologists worry that bullying could have long-term impacts on the children who are targeted, and increasingly widespread access to social media has lead to more frequent reports of "cyber-bullying" among teens. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched a "Stop Bullying" campaign in 2012, and some policymakers have drafted legislation in an attempt to deal with the issue.

One of those bills is H.R. 1199, the Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2013, which would institute anti-bullying eligibility requirements for states that receive federal education grants. Introduced by Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-CA), the bill would require all schools receiving state funding to institute policies that "prevent and prohibit conduct ... that is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive" to safely or comfortably participate in school programs. It would also require schools to keep records of all reported incidences of bullying, which in turn would be sent to the State and used to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-bullying policies in place.

According to Representative Sanchez, "[w]e owe it to our children to protect them and make sure they have a safe and comfortable learning environment at school. ... Bullying can destroy a student's self-esteem and wreck their academic progress. No child deserves to be bullied or harassed, and it's time we made this violent and destructive behavior a relic of the past."

H.R. 1199 is similar to legislation introduced by Rep. Sanchez in the 112th Congress (H.R. 1648). Under BillTally rules, H.R. 1199 and its previous version are "No Cost" regulatory bills that would not affect federal outlays.

Cosponsors include 79 Democrats and three Republicans in the House.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit


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The Wildcard

The Bill: S. 454, the Family Self-Sufficiency Act

Annualized Cost: $100 million ($500 million over five years)

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), along with Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), has introduced S. 454 to reform and expand the Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS), which supports families and individuals living in low-income housing.

Operated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, FSS is a program "that encourages communities to develop local strategies to help voucher families obtain employment that will lead to economic independence and self-sufficiency." The program cost taxpayers approximately $75 billion last year. S. 454 would combine two housing entities, the Office of Housing Choice Vouchers and the Public Housing program, into an expanded FSS. While FSS currently provides job training and employment counseling to recipients, Senator Reed's bill would provide funds for low-income individuals to attain a GED, post-secondary degree or certification, and training in financial literacy. Under S. 454, the new FSS program would be expanded to include those individuals living in privately-owned properties. Applicants accepted to the program would be awarded benefits similar to those in the current system.

The Act would authorize $100 million in new spending for each of the next five years.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit

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