Senator Collins Announces Legislation to Delay Implementation of REAL ID

Senator Susan Collins, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, today announced that she is introducing legislation to delay the implementation of the REAL ID Act of 2005, providing states a more reasonable time frame to comply with the new federal security standards for drivers’ licenses. The legislation would also require the Department of Homeland Security to take into account the concerns and challenges associated with states’ compliance.

Following a meeting on Capitol Hill with Maine’s Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, Senator Collins announced her legislation. Maine’s legislature was the first to pass a resolution expressing opposition to REAL ID because Maine, along with a number of other states nationwide, does not have the ability or resources to comply by the May 2008 deadline.

“As the 9-11 Commission Report pointed out, the system for issuing identification cards is flawed, we need to tighten security in this regard. And many states have come a long way in strengthening security as it relates to the issuance of drivers licenses. But I am fully aware that the costs of complying with REAL ID are enormous and overly burdensome to states, including Maine. I will be introducing this legislation so that we can pause and take a more measured approach to REAL ID,” said Senator Collins.

At issue is the REAL ID law which requires states to meet certain standards for the issuance of identification such as a driver’s license. Leaders of many states, including Maine, say that meeting the standards are too expensive and unrealistic by the 2008 deadline.

During Congressional consideration of the REAL ID legislation, Senator Collins worked with her colleagues on a bipartisan basis to include provisions in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which she coauthored, that established a negotiated-rulemaking committee to craft regulations to make driver’s licenses more secure.

This committee was composed of federal officials, state officials including Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, and representatives from other interested parties, who were working to create standards that would provide secure identification without unduly burdening states and without threatening fundamental privacy protections.

In May 2005, Congress passed a supplemental spending bill that included the REAL ID Act, which thereby preempted the rulemaking committee.

Senator Collins’ legislation would give DHS the authority to delay or waive the requirements for REAL ID compliance if stated do not have the ability, or technical capability to comply. In addition, her bill would create a committee of federal officials, state officials, privacy advocates, and other interested parties to review the proposed regulations and to suggest modifications. And it would require DHS to take these concerns into account.