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The Real ID Act started off as H.R. 418, which passed the House and went stagnant. Representative James Sensenbrenner (R) of Wisconsin, the author of the original Real ID Act, then attached it as a rider on a military spending bill (H.R. 1268). The House of Representatives passed that spending bill with the Real ID rider 368-58, and the Senate passed the joint House-Senate conference report on that bill 100-0. President Bush signed it into law on May 11, 2005.
On March 2, 2007, it was announced that enforcement of the Act would be postponed for two years. The provisions of the bill will be delayed from going into effect until December 2009. On January 11, 2008, it was announced that the deadline has been extended again, until 2011, in hopes of gaining more support from states. On the same date the Department of Homeland Security released the final rule  regarding the implementation of the driver's licenses provisions of the Real ID Act. A pdf of the final rule, as well as DHS Secretary Chertoff's press conference, in pdf transcript, audio and video formats, can be found at BiometricBits.com. 
State adoption and non-compliance
Portions of the Real ID Act pertaining to states were scheduled to take effect on May 11, 2008, three years after the law passed, but the deadline had been extended to December 31, 2009. On January 11, 2008, it was announced the deadline has been extended again, until 2011, in hopes of gaining more support from states.
The Real ID Act says that, starting around May 2008, Americans will need a federally approved ID card--a U.S. passport will also qualify--to travel on an airplane, open a bank account, collect Social Security payments or take advantage of nearly any government service. States will have to conduct checks of their citizens' identification papers, and driver's licenses likely will be reissued to comply with Homeland Security requirements.
On January 11, 2008, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the final regulations to implement the requirements of the Real ID. The release of the final regulations is a mere 120 days prior to the implementation deadline established in the Real ID Act. DHS estimates the costs for states to implement the Real ID will not exceed $3.9 billion.
On May 11, 2008, state driver's licenses and identification cards will not be accepted for federal purposes unless DHS determines a state is compliant with the Real ID or a state has been approved for an extension by DHS. States will have until March 31, 2008 to seek an initial extension of the Real ID compliance date.