Call it a symbolic squashing. The U.S. House of Representatives, in a near unanimous vote, has defeated a military draft bill proposed last year as a protest by New York Democrat Charles Rangel.
Even Rangel urged his colleagues to vote against the bill. It was defeated 402 to 2.
But Rangel accused Republicans of trying to use the vote to escape election-seasons questions about the war in Iraq.
Republicans also intended to shoot down an Internet rumor that President Bush planned to reinstate the draft. Bush has repeatedly said that he won't.
"Rangel and his fourteen Democratic colleagues who sponsored this legislation did so to make some kind of political point," said Rep. Chip Pickering, Republican of Mississippi's Third Congressional District. "But they created fear and gave weight to false rumors that have disturbed many of us in Congress and more unfortunately many Americans across the country. Tonight we overwhelmingly defeated this measure to assure the American public that the draft is not coming back and that we will not allow the politics of fear to rule in the United States Congress."
Only two lawmakers, Democrats John Murtha of Pennsylvania and Pete Stark of California, voted for the draft measure.
Murtha said the war is being fought by only a small segment of the population.
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