WASHINGTON (AP) ­-­ Rep. Charles Rangel, a fierce opponent of the Iraq war, on Thursday called for a new military draft, saying everyone between 18 and 42 should be asked to share the burden of wartime responsibilities. The Harlem Democrat has offered the bill before, but this is the first time he has done so as a member of the new Democratic majority in Congress.

“I’m serious about the draft because I do believe in wartime if someone has to serve it should be everyone has to be in a position to be liable to serve,” said Rangel, who has long argued the country’s minorities and lower class are doing a disproportionate share of the fighting in the all-volunteer U.S. military. As a young man, Rangel enlisted in the Army in the late 1940s and was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in the Korean War.

Democratic leadership has shown no interest in bringing the bill to a vote, despite its vocal objections to the 21,500-troop increase announced Wednesday night by President Bush. Even Rangel once voted against the bill.

The Bush administration has repeatedly insisted there will be no military draft.

Rangel, chairman of the powerful tax-writing Ways & Means Committee, said he was “so pained” by the president’s remarks about the troops, “some of whom may lose their lives or their limbs and not have the slightest clue as to what the president of the United States was talking about.”

“How many people are going to die,” he said, “before they put out the light and say, ‘Yes we made mistakes, we continue to make mistakes and the American people just won’t tolerate any more mistakes at the expense of American lives and limbs and close to half a trillion dollars?”‘

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