WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of Senators appealing to keep the REAL ID Act off the 2005 supplemental spending bill believes the drivers’ license provisions of the Act could make the nation less safe than it would be otherwise. In letters to Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senators said REAL ID Act provisions that require states to verify birth certificates and immigration papers – without additional resources and data bases to do so – are simply unworkable.
“State governments are particularly vocal in their opposition to the REAL ID Act provisions, which would impose rigid and unrealistic mandates on their processes for issuing drivers’ licenses,” the letter states. “In fact, the REAL ID Act provisions would be so difficult for states to implement the bill would undermine an initiative that can make the nation safer from terrorism.” The REAL ID Act would repeal provisions in the National Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, signed into law last December, that called for federal minimum identification standards to ensure state-issued documents are secure and identities are verified. The rule-making process is already underway on an expedited schedule to set these standards, and state officials have a seat at the table. Under the REAL ID Act, states could not participate in a consensus-building negotiated rule-making. In part because of their exclusion in a matter concerning a traditional state function, but also because of their expertise in issuing drivers’ licenses, state officials are lined up against the REAL ID Act. Opposing the bill are the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. Each of those groups endorsed the intelligence reform bill provisions. “The REAL ID Act imposes mandates on state governments that are beyond the current capacity of even the federal government,” the letter states. “For example, the House bill requires verification of birth certificates without providing the time or resources needed to digitize hundreds of millions of paper documents. That requirement alone would lead to huge delays at state DMVs for all applicants.”