House votes lopsidedly against draft

October 06, 2004|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON -- Seeking to dispel suggestions that the war in Iraq could lead to reinstatement of the draft, House Republicans yesterday hastily brought the idea to a vote -- with the express intent of shooting it down.

The vote, launched with only hours of notice and no public hearings, was designed to put an end to talk that President Bush's foreign policy could overtax the all-volunteer Army.

"It's putting a rumor to rest," John Feehery, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, said even before the 402-2 vote to reject the bill that would have required two years of military or civilian service.

But congressional Democrats and activists elsewhere denounced the vote as an empty exercise that trivialized what many Americans believe is a real possibility.

Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, suggested during a campaign stop in Iowa yesterday that the Bush administration might re-institute the draft.

"I've never said they're going to have a draft," Kerry said. "I've said I don't know what they're going to do. I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to pursue a policy that guarantees that we don't have to have a draft."

Administration officials have flatly ruled out the prospect of a new draft, and Bush said at a campaign stop this week that "we will not have a draft so long as I'm the president."

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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