Tester, Daines Ask Secretary Kelly to Grant Montana an Emergency REAL ID Waiver

U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines are asking U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly to grant the state of Montana an emergency waiver for compliance with the REAL ID Act, a law that sets a federal standard for ID compliance.

Starting January 30, Montanans without a compliant federal ID-such as an American passport-will not be able to access Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls as well as other secure federal government facilities in other states. Beginning in 2018, Montanans would also be prohibited from boarding a federally regulated commercial aircraft if they only have a Montana driver’s license.

Tester and Daines are asking Secretary Kelly to grant an emergency waiver so Montanans’ lives will not be disrupted.

“By working together, we know we can find a solution that respects the privacy rights of law-abiding Montanans, while also keeping our state and nation safe from bad actors who want to do us harm,” the Senators wrote to Kelly. “We continue to oppose the REAL ID law and we still feel strongly that the civil liberties and privacy of law-abiding Americans could easily be violated as a result of this law.”

The Senators outlined the real consequences for Montanans if the Department of Homeland Security does not grant the state a waiver.

“A vendor in Great Falls will no longer be able to access Malmstrom Air Force Base to drop off their deliveries without additional identification. Further, some veterans seeking care could face difficulties in entering a base to see their doctor,” wrote Tester and Daines. “The passport application fee is $110 for someone over the age of 16 and $80 for a child. Moreover, it can take up to six weeks to receive a passport after completing an application. This extended wait can be a significant obstacle to families in cases of emergencies that require air travel.”

The Senators are sponsoring the bipartisan Repeal REAL ID Act, which repeals federal mandates for driver’s licenses.

Tester has long championed repealing the REAL ID Act. In 2008, he introduced legislation to overturn the REAL ID Act. In both a one-on-one meeting with Secretary Kelly and his nomination hearing, Tester asked the Secretary to address REAL ID issues in Montana.

You can read the Senators’ letter to Kelly HERE.