Baucus and Tester to DHS Sec: Reject REAL ID
Senators Urge Secretary Napolitano to Accept Montana IDs after December 31
(Washington, D.C.) – In a continued effort to prevent Real ID legislation from infringing on the privacy rights of Montanans, Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today wrote Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urging her to ensure that the Montana state driver’s license remains a sufficient form of identification in 2010.
Montana is one of thirteen states to reject compliance with Real ID- a nationalized standard for state driver’s licenses and other identity documents.
“We agree that this legislation is fundamentally unworkable, intrudes too deeply on the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans and creates an unacceptable unfunded mandate on states,” Baucus and Tester wrote.
Unless the Department of Homeland Security grants an extension to the current REAL ID deadline, as of January 1, 2010, Montanans using secure, valid Montana driver’s license for federal identification purposes and commercial air travel could be subject to additional screening requirements, because the IDs do not meet REAL ID standards. Montanans could even be denied entry into federal buildings if Montana IDs do not meet the federal requirement.
The letter pushes Napolitano to prevent the additional screening requirements imposed on Montanans while Congress works to repeal REAL ID once and for all. Baucus and Tester have continually opposed REAL ID, co-sponsoring legislation aimed at repealing the Act and preventing efforts to expand or fund it.
Text of Letter:
Hon. Janet Napolitano
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Secretary Napolitano:
First, we commend you for your leadership in working with Congress to forge a new approach to improving the security of state-issued drivers’ licenses in the United States and for your opposition to Title II of the current REAL ID Act. Your leadership is critical to ensure that the unfunded mandates and privacy intrusion caused by Title II of the REAL ID Act are quickly replaced by a more sensible framework.
As we discussed during several meetings and Congressional hearings earlier this year, we are adamantly opposed to this part of REAL ID and have fought against it from day one. We agree that this legislation is fundamentally unworkable, intrudes too deeply on the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans and creates an unacceptable unfunded mandate on states. As you know, we are especially concerned by the requirement that would create of a national computer network of drivers’ license databases that can be accessed by all states and the federal government. This hub fails to provide sufficient protection for American’s personal information. Given the economic crisis currently facing this country this program would have an enormous impact on state budgets. DHS currently estimates that REAL ID will cost nearly $4 billion, most of which will be paid for by the states.
We are working with our Senate colleagues to repeal Title II of the REAL ID Act as soon as possible, and we appreciate your support for repealing this legislation. As you know, the State of Montana is one of 13 states that have laws that prohibit their compliance with Title II of REAL ID. However, Montana, like most of these states, has taken its own independent actions to improve the security of drivers’ licenses and other state-issued identity documents. Therefore, we urge you to take the steps necessary to prevent the imposition of additional screening requirements upon Montanans using their secure, valid Montana driver’s license for federal identification purposes and commercial air travel after December 31st, 2009.
Sen. Max Baucus
Sen. Jon Tester