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Real ID Passes House Tacked Onto Appropriations Bill

When it looked like the Real ID might have some trouble in the Senate, conservatives tacked it onto HR 1268 which provides emergency supplemental funds for the Iraq war and Tsunami disaster relief, making it difficult to stop the bill without seeming to be against approving money for soldiers and disaster victims. HR 1268 just passed the House 368-58 on 5/5/05. It is expected to go through the Senate next week. Find a link at the end of this article to send a fax to your Senators.

Some clever last minute maneuvering has allowed very troubling and unpopular legislation to pass the House of Representatives on Thursday May 5th, 2005 by tacking it on to an $82 million military spending bill.  The House of Representatives approved bill H.R.1268 on Thursday by a vote of 368-58. Only three of those in opposition to the bill were Republicans. The Senate is scheduled to vote on it next week and is expected to approve it as well.

H.R. 1268 provides emergency supplemental funds for the war effort in Iraq and for Tsunami disaster relief. It is a very difficult to vote against the Real ID portion with out seeming to be blocking money for our troops in Iraq and aid to Tsunami survivors.

The original Real ID Bill, H.R.418, only made it through the House by a vote of 261- 161 and was expected to face trouble in the Senate.  (See CPSR Opposes "Real ID" Bill)   Attaching it to a bill primarily designed to provide funding for soldiers in Iraq and Tsunami victims allows it to go through with little discussion and puts a black mark on those who vote against it, although some Democrats and Republicans are calling on Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to agree to hearings on the bill and to permit a separate vote on the Real ID portion of the bill.

The act mandates that driver's license or state ID license applicants show a photo ID, a birth certificate, proof of their Social Security number and a document showing their full name and address. (I'm not sure how a teen getting there first license gets a photo ID, but maybe we can mandate that schools have to have photo IDs too.) Everything then has to be checked against federal databases. All of the state databases have to be able to link to each other, and the ID cards must be "machine readable" as determined by the Office of Homeland Security. This could be a magnetic strip, but it seems much more likely it will be an RFID tag.  Plus Homeland Security has a lot of control over what information must be kept on the  IDs and therefore what is stored in the database.

And from that point on you'll need this federally approved ID card to travel on an airplane or enter a federal building, or collect Social Security, or receive any federal government services. States have three years to come into compliance with the act. Those states that fail, most likely will lose federal funds and their citizens will lose the privileges listed above unless they come up with some other approved ID. Coming into compliance may cost the states $500 million or more.  No funding for the states is provided for in the bill.

This is troubling not just because it is another unfunded federal mandate, or just because it is in fact creating a National ID, but it is also creating a National Database.  After the ChoicePoint and LexisNexis disasters, and these are businesses whose sole business is data management, I am quite concerned that the government wants to get itself and the states more involved in the data game. It is also unsettling that conservatives have tucked this unpopular bill into an appropriations bill to provide designed to provide money for soldiers and Tsunami victims. This is a particularly underhanded method of passing some unpopular and unwise legislation. 

Along with the privacy and civil liberties community, The National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators are amoung the many groups opposing the Real ID portion of H.R.1268.

If you want to send a fax to your Senator go to

Created by lsmithlas
Last modified May 08, 2005 06:53 PM

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