Real ID Faces Repeal

The move to repeal the controversial Real ID law hit the U.S. Senate this week when Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI)--along with five other senators--introduced a bill that would replace Real ID with a similar law. The Providing for Additional Security In States' Identification Act of 2009 (PASS ID) would keep the basic idea in place--require states to issue state-issued driver licenses and identification cards with minimum security standards to be used for boarding airplanes and entering federal facilities--but would provide federal funding. PASS ID also tweaks certain aspects and, according to proponents, includes more privacy protections than its predecessor.  [more]

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano welcomed the newly introduced legislation, after this spring indicating proposed changes to Real ID were afoot. "Pass ID is a cost-effective, common-sense solution that balances critical security requirements with the input and practical needs of state governments," according to her statement.

An outspoken critic of the existing Real ID program (primarily due to the cost it imposes on states), the National Governors Association also applauded the Senate proposal. "As enacted, Real ID is a large unfunded mandate," according to NGA chair and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. "In contrast, PASS ID gets rid of unnecessary costs and authorizes some of the funding necessary for states to implement this program. It's a first step towards covering the cost of compliance."

According to the proposed legislation, "beginning one year after the date on which final regulations are issued," federal agencies "may not accept, for any official purpose, a driver's license or identification card issued by a state to any person unless the state is materially compliant." However, the bill also stipulates that "no person shall be denied boarding a commercial aircraft solely on the basis of failure to present a driver's license or identification card issued" in compliance with the legislation.

From six years after final regulations are issued, a compliant driver's license or ID card must be presented "for any official purpose."

Funding for states' efforts to comply would come from appropriations and grants to be allocated by the DHS secretary during fiscal years 2010 through 2015.