U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today called on his colleagues to delay the implementation of the 2005 Real ID Act, which “turned 190 million drivers licenses into national identification cards, with state taxpayers paying most of the cost.”
“I said to my colleagues at [the] time that this is one more of the unfunded federal mandates that we Republicans promised to end,” Alexander said. “One of the reasons so many states are asking us to overturn Real ID is that, according to the National Governors’ Association, implementing the law will cost more than $11 billion to implement, and we have provided only $40 million.”
Alexander added that he has ‘reluctantly’ concluded that America needs a national ID card, but said “Real ID isn’t the way to do it. DMV employees aren’t ready to be turned into CIA agents to check for terrorists.
“Nothing used to make me madder when I was Governor of Tennessee than for some group of Congressmen to come up with a big idea, turn it into law, hold a big press conference, take credit for it, and send the bill to the States to pay for it,” he said.
The Senate is scheduled to consider the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission enacted by the House after next week’s recess. Alexander urged his Senate colleagues to support a proposal by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to delay implementation of Real ID by two years, and over the long term create and fund a more workable identification card.
“We need a comprehensive immigration bill. That bill needs to have an employer verification system,” he said. “I don't see how we can have an employer verification system without a good form of identification card. I hope we will deal with this in the way the Senate normally deals with issues; that is, through its committees, considering all of the options.”