Aliens to Benefit By Draft Revision (9-11-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (September 11, 1940)

By Ronald G. Van Tine, United Press Staff Writer

Washington, Sept. 11 –

Senate-House conferees on the conscription bill today eliminated a House provision that would have barred aliens from filling private jobs left vacant by men drafted into the Army.

Another House provision, barring Communists or members of the German-American Bund from these jobs, was retained.

Chairman Morris Sheppard of the Senate Military Affairs Committee and chief Senate conferee, said that after a luncheon recess the group would stay at work “until we finish the bill.”

The morning’s conference did not touch upon the more controversial aspects of the measure, such as the House provision to raise the draft age limit from 31 to 45. House conferees would not say whether they would agree to a Senate proposal to reduce the maximum age to 40.

Similarly, the controversial House amendment to delay conscription until a 60-day voluntary enlistment drive is attempted did not come up at the conference.

Other Minor Changes

Several minor changes were made in the measure, including a new provision that would enable conscripts to return home for elections at government expense, provided their homes are within a day’s travel from their training stations.

A Senate provision to permit an Army officer to become draft administrator was agreed to by House conferees.

The proposed compromise on the draft age limit was expected to come up soon after the conference reconvenes.

Compromise Offered

The compromise, one of two suggested by the Senate conferees, was advanced as the conference committee sought to put the bill in final shape for White House approval before the end of the week.

The House bill provided for registration of all men between the ages of 21 and 45. The Senate bill carries an age span of 21 to 31.

House conferees, after more than six hours’ discussion yesterday, rejected a Senate offer to adopt a 21-36 limit and indicated that the 21-40 proposal was equally unsatisfactory. However, they consented to take the latter plan under advisement and give their verdict today.

Meanwhile, War Department officials indicated that registration day would be about Oct. 15. Earlier plans were to register prospective conscripts about Oct. 1.

Those familiar with conscription plans believe President Roosevelt will fix the date of registration shortly after he signs the pending Burke-Wadsworth bill. He is expected to proclaim the day a national holiday with schools and other public institutions closed to facilitate the vast inventory of men.

Call Due Nov. 15

It was believed that the first conscripts could not be inducted into the Army until about Nov. 15 – or at least until after Election Day, Nov. 5. Earlier Army mobilization plans had been to call the first conscripts about Oct. 15.

Senator Sheppard announced that the House conferees had accepted a Senate amendment providing that no more than 900,000 men inducted under the bill could be in active service in the land forces at any one time, except in case of war. The House bill placed the ceiling at a million and applied it to both the Army and Navy.

The House group also accepted Senate language under which Army and Navy aviation units would be open to all men, regardless of race or color, and consented to add employees of the public health service and the coast and geodetic survey to the list of those exempted from training.