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U.S. Army soldiers line up. Photo: Matej Divizna / Getty Images

Close to 75% of young Americans, ages 17 to 24, are not eligible for the military due to health issues or criminal backgrounds, Politico's Bryan Bender reports, citing government data. That's 24 million out of 34 million individuals.

The bottom line: Rising rates of obesity and asthma as well as falling rates of high school graduation in certain cities are shrinking the pool of Americans eligible for military service. It's an obstacle for President Trump's defense plan, which includes recruiting "tens of thousands of new soldiers, sailors, pilots and cyber specialists over the next five years" to build up the military, writes Bender.

"We all have this image in our mind of this hearty American citizen, scrappy, that can do anything ... That image we keep in our heads is no longer accurate."
— Retired Army Lt. Gen. Tom Spoehr, who has co-authored a paper on the recruiting crisis, told Politico.

By the numbers:

  • "The new budget calls for increasing the size of the military by 25,900 people through October 2019 and by a total of 56,600 by 2023 — all mostly active-duty troops."
  • The obesity rate among younger adults is about 32%, per CDC data.
  • High school graduation rates hit an all-time high of 84.1% in 2017, but there are still major cities and states reporting much lower rates, such as 70.7% in Montgomery, Alabama and 51.3% in Albany, Oregon, Spoehr notes. Young people must have high school degrees or GEDs to serve.
  • And unemployment sits at 4%, which makes military recruiting difficult.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

McConnell drops filibuster demand, paving way for power-sharing deal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a joint session of Congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned his demand that Democrats state, in writing, that they would not abandon the legislative filibuster.

Between the lines: McConnell was never going to agree to a 50-50 power sharing deal without putting up a fight over keeping the 60-vote threshold. But the minority leader ultimately caved after it became clear that delaying the organizing resolution was no longer feasible.

3 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

Sen. Ted Cruz led the group of Republicans who opposed certifying the results. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.