Conscription Act Approval Likely In Senate Today


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The Pittsburgh Press (August 28, 1940)

Mobilization of Men Due by Sept. 15
Washington, Aug. 28 (UP) –

President Roosevelt has signed the bill authorizing him to mobilize the National Guard and other Army reserves - a force of 408,000 officers and men - for one year’s active service.

The White House announced today that Mr. Roosevelt signed the measure before he left Washington for Hyde Park, N.Y., last night.

The authority extends to June 30, 1942, and the President is limited in the use of the troops to the Western Hemisphere and territories and possessions of the United States, including the Philippine Islands.

Will Swell Forces

The Guard bill is the first of two designed to swell America’s standing army – now numbering 280,000 men – to a total of 1,200,000 within a year. The other is the conscription bill.

Under Army plans made public recently by Brig. Gen. William E. Shedd, Assistant Chief of Staff, the Government plans to begin ordering up the guardsmen Sept. 15 when four divisions are scheduled to be mobilized.

Not all of the 408,000 subject to call will be mustered into service. The bill permits guardsmen and reserves below the rank of captain who have dependent wives or children to resign or be discharged at their own request within 20 days. That, Army officials estimate, will eliminate at least 22,000 of the available 238,000 guardsmen.

Reserves Also Subject

The bill also permits the calling of 116,000 reserve officers, from whom only around 20,000 are expected to be called, and reserve enlisted men, most of whom are married and would be excluded.

Guardsmen under the minimum age of 18 - youths frequently misrepresent their age to join the state units – would be honorably discharged immediately.

Other than providing for the mustering of the reserve forces, the bill carries safeguards for the jobs of the men called into service. Employers are informed that they are expected to give guardsmen back their jobs at the expiration of the year’s training without loss of seniority or pay status. Men who are refused their jobs back are authorized to institute proceedings through U.S. court.

Men Protected

The bill also extends the provisions of the World War Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act to cover men mustered into service. This act protects them against court judgments while under arms and provides for deferment of certain types of their obligations back home.

The Army already has announced what units it plans to have ordered into service in the first call. It was understood there might be some changes in this program.

The tentative list of units to be called first, comprising about 55,000 men, follows:

44th Division, New York and New Jersey, to Fort Dix, N.J.
30th Division, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia, to Camp Jackson, S.C.
45th Division, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, to Fort Sill, Okla.
41st Division, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Wyoming, to Fort Lewis, Wash.
198th Anti-Aircraft Coast Artillery, Delaware, to Camp Upton, N.Y.
197th Anti-Aircraft Coast Artillery, New Hampshire, to Falmouth, Mass.
202nd Anti-Aircraft Coast Artillery, Illinois, to Camp Logan, Ill.
203rd Anti-Aircraft Coast Artillery, Missouri, to Fort Barrancas, Fla.
211th Anti-Aircraft Coast Artillery, Massachusetts, to Falmouth, Mass.
213th Anti-Aircraft Coast Artillery, Pennsylvania, to Virginia Beach, Va.
251st Anti-Aircraft Coast Artillery, California, to Ventura, Cal.
244th Coast Artillery, New York, to Virginia Beach, Va.
250th Coast Artillery, California, to Camp McQuaide, Cal.
252nd Coast Artillery, North Carolina, to Charleston, S.C.
240th Coast Artillery, Maine, to Portland, Me.
241st Coast Artillery, Massachusetts, to Boston, Mass.
242nd Coast Artillery, Connecticut, to Long Island Sound, N.Y.
243rd Coast Artillery, Rhode Island, to Narragansett Bay, R.I.
245th Coast Artillery, New York, to Sandy Hook, N.J.
246th Coast Artillery, Virginia, to Chesapeake Bay, Va.
248th Coast Artillery, Washington State, to train at Puget Sound, Wash.
249th Coast Artillery, Oregon, to Columbia, Ore.
105th Observation Squadron, Tennessee, to Camp Jackson, S.C.
119th Observation Squadron, New Jersey, to Fort Dix, N.J.
154th Observation Squadron, Arkansas, to Fort Sill, Okla.
116th Observation Squadron, Washington State, to Fort Lewis, Wash.

Foes Concede Inevitable Defeat
By Louis J. Schaeffle, United Press Staff Writer

Washington, Aug. 28 –

The Senate ran roughshod today over a third attempt to soften the Burke-Wadsworth conscription bill when it defeated an amendment which would prevent any draft until Congress declared a state of emergency.

Under demands by Administration leaders to stop talking and act, the Senate appeared ready to ballot later in the day on the bill itself. Foes of the bill conceded it would pass by a sizable margin.

The vote against the national emergency proposal was 55 to 27, and came 15 minutes after its author, Senator Alexander Wiley (R-WI), brought it to the Senate floor.

Senator Wiley’s amendment was similar to that by Senator David I. Walsh which lost last night, 54 to 29.

Senator Wiley said that a well-promoted recruiting campaign would produce large numbers of men for the Army and advertise to the world that even under a system in which conscription plays no part. Americans are willing and eager to protect their republic.

Senator Burton K. Wheeler (D-MT), unofficial leader of the anti-draft bloc, announced that he abandoned hope of defeating the bill after the Senate smashed, 54 to 29, the proposal by Senator Walsh.

Senator Wheeler said:

I think we reached the high water mark of our strength on the Walsh amendment. I think the vote on the bill will be about the same. We put up the best fight we knew how. We did the best we could do.

Senator Wheeler said he thought the final vote would come sometime tonight, but Senate Democratic Leader Alben W. Barkley and Chairman Morris Sheppard of the Senate Military Affairs Committee believed the bill could be passed during the afternoon.

Only one major obstacle to Senate approval remains - a substitute proposal by Senator Francis T. Maloney (D-CT) to defer conscription until Jan. 1, 1941 and to become effective then only in case a voluntary enlistment program fails to bring enough men into the Army.

Senator Barkley believes that the opposition to conscription will get its greatest show of strength on the Maloney substitute. He expects about 35 votes for that proposal. Many isolationists will not vote for it, however, because it acknowledges the possible necessity of conscription.

Debate Limited

As the end of the long, bitter debate on the bill approached, Administration leaders obtained unanimous consent to limit individual speeches on proposed amendments or substitute bills today to 15 minutes each. Speeches on the bill itself will be limited to 30 minutes each.

Supporters of the Maloney proposal conceded privately that it would fail. Prior to denunciation of it by President Roosevelt and Republican Presidential nominee Wendell L. Willkie they had anticipated a six or seven-vote margin.

In addition to the Maloney substitute the Senate also must consider an amendment by Senator Richard B. Russell (D-GA), which would empower the Government to condemn plants that have refused to co-operate in fulfilling national defense contracts.

The Senate was in its 14th day of debate on the bill today and the House Military Affairs Committee was scheduled to report its version. The House Committee tentatively has decided to press for registration of all men between the ages of 21 and 45, whereas the Senate version would register only those between 21 and 31.

Senate action on the draft bill last night was highlighted y defeat of the Walsh proposal and of another substitute offered by Senator Robert A. Taft (R-OH). Senator Taft proposed a standing army of 500,000 men and a reserve component of 1,500,000 men to be raised only by enlistment and training of students in high schools and colleges. It was defeated, 55 to 22.

Senator Taft argued that modern armies are skilled, professional and highly trained and cited the unparalleled success of Germany’s highly mechanized war machine. Conscript armies are a thing of the past, he contended.

Leading the fight against the Walsh proposal, Senator Barkley argued that it would leave the country in exactly the same position as in peacetime because conscription would be voted automatically if the nation was at war or threatened with attack.

Protection Approved

The Senate also accepted by unanimous voice vote, an amendment by Senator Claude Pepper (D-FL), providing that, in connection with judicial procedure to compel re-employment of draftees who have completed their training, discharges during the 30 days immediately preceding passage of the bill shall be deemed prima facie evidence that the draftee quit work to enter military service.

The Senate also accepted by unanimous voice vote, an amendment by Senator Robert F. Wagner (D-NY) providing, also in connection with judicial procedure for re-employment, that courts may order payment of wages for the period of time in which the case is being adjudicated.