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Testimony of Secretary Napolitano before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, "Identification Security" (Oral Testimony) given July 15, 2009
Release Date: July 16, 2009 Dirksen Senate Office Building
As you noted, Chairman [Senator Joe] Lieberman, 13 states—I think Missouri being the most recent last night—had actually enacted legislation barring themselves from implementing REAL ID. And 13 other states have passed resolutions opposing REAL ID. We cannot have national standards for drivers’ licenses when the states, themselves, refuse to participate. Now, the practical problem with REAL ID is one of timeliness, and that sets the urgency for Pass ID. Because, under REAL ID—as of December 31st of this year—states are required to attest that they are implementing REAL ID for their driver’s licenses so that they can be accepted for things like boarding a plane.
Chairman Lieberman: So—if I may interrupt you—that means that assuming nothing else happens in between—that it is—under the law, the driver’s licenses issued by the states would not be accepted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to gain passage.
Secretary Napolitano: That's correct, Mr. Chairman—not without additional screening by TSA—and one can only contemplate—just the inconvenience in airline travel that could occur if everyone has to undergo additional screening because they don't have a REAL ID compliant driver’s license.
Chairman Lieberman: In other words, the kind of secondary screening that goes on now—if for some reason you forget your license or something—that would have to happen to everybody.
Secretary Napolitano: That's right, Senator.
Now we get to the fundamental reason why we have these laws in the first place. We go back to the 9/11 Commission report. We need secure identification to thwart potential terrorists; law enforcement needs to have confidence that an ID holder is who he or she claims to be; and—as the 9/11 Commission report said—to terrorists, travel documents are just as important as weapons.
—these differences contained within Pass ID make it a bill that—if passed and implemented before Dec. 31 of this year—will fix a bill that was flawed from the outset.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano this week said she is working with governors to repeal the Real ID Act, which was passed in 2005 and went into effect last year.
The bill is popular in Washington, but is scorned by many governors who bear the responsibility and cost of validating that holders of driver's licenses are citizens or legal residents of the United States.
Napolitano, former governor of Arizona, said she has met with governors of both parties recently "to look at a way to repeal Real ID." She said she wants to substitute the federal law with "something else that pivots off of the driver's license but accomplishes some of the same goals. And we hope to be able to announce something on that fairly soon."
Lieberman, GOP Slam Napolitano's Real ID Revisions