Your Pro-National-ID Appropriators

Every year around this time, a ritual is underway that quietly moves the ball forward on creating a U.S. national ID. That ritual is the annual appropriations process in Congress, which doles out money for everything the government does—including weaving together a system that may one day identify, track, and control each one of us.

As I noted last year in my policy analysis, REAL ID: A State-by-State Update, DHS has spent over a quarter billion dollars on REAL ID since the 2008 fiscal year. Beginning in 2012, grants supporting state efforts to implement REAL ID were moved into the State Homeland Security Grant Program, which fairly well keeps the amounts hidden from you and me. But appropriators at any time could deny the expenditure of funds to implement REAL ID.

Why don’t they do it? Judging by their records, appropriators are a strongly pro-national-ID group. Appropriations committee members who were in Congress when it passed tended to favor the national ID law—Republicans almost without exception. (And because Republicans chair the appropriations committees in both the House and Senate, they are currently the ones to watch.)

House members serving in 2005 had four chances to vote against the national ID law, and senators had two: First, when REAL ID passed the House on a test vote as H.R. 418. Second, when the rule governing debate in the House on H.R. 1268 passed by voice vote, attaching REAL ID to this spending bill. Third, when H.R. 1268 passed the House and Senate. And, fourth, when the conference report on H.R. 1268 passed the House and Senate.

Take a look at the pro-national-ID vote percentages for House Appropriations Committee members. All but one of the House Republican appropriators then serving voted in favor of the national ID law (or allowed it to go forward) every time. Mario Diaz-Balart went against REAL ID on one out of four occasions, voting against it on the test vote. (He was absent for the final vote on the appropriations bill to which REAL ID was attached. This analysis treats absence as “favoring” a bill because it allowed the outcome to occur. Representatives are obliged to vote on consequential matters.)

  • Harold Rogers (KY), Chairman 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (NJ) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Robert B. Aderholt (AL) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Kay Granger (TX) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Michael K. Simpson (ID) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • John Abney Culberson (TX) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Ander Crenshaw (FL) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • John R. Carter (TX) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Ken Calvert (CA) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Tom Cole (OK) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Mario Diaz-Balart (FL) 75% in favor of a national ID
  • Charles W. Dent (PA) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Tom Graves (GA) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Jeff Fortenberry (NE) 100% in favor of a national ID

(Current Republican appropriators not serving in the House in 2005: Kevin Yoder, Kansas; Steve Womack, Arkansas; Tom Rooney, Florida; Chuck Fleischmann, Tennessee; Jaime Herrera Beutler, Washington; David Joyce, Ohio; David Valadao, California; Andy Harris, MD, Maryland; Martha Roby, Alabama; Mark Amodei, Nevada; Chris Stewart, Utah; Scott Rigell, Virginia; David Jolly, Florida; David Young, Iowa; Evan Jenkins, West Virginia; Steven Palazzo, Mississippi.)

House Democrats now serving on the appropriations committee had generally better records, typically voting against REAL ID as a freestanding bill, but getting rolled into a supportive position when it was attached to an appropriations bill. Some Democrats voted in favor every time, and a few voted to oppose a national ID because they opposed the spending bill to which it was attached. The only sin of this latter group was allowing the vote on the rule that attached REAL ID to the spending bill to go forward without a roll call vote.

  • Nita M. Lowey (NY), ranking member 75% in favor of a national ID
  • Marcy Kaptur (OH) 75% in favor of a national ID
  • Peter J. Visclosky (IN) 75% in favor of a national ID
  • José E. Serrano (NY) 25% in favor of a national ID
  • Rosa L. DeLauro (CT) 75% in favor of a national ID
  • David E. Price (NC) 75% in favor of a national ID
  • Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA) 75% in favor of a national ID
  • Sam Farr (CA) 25% in favor of a national ID
  • Chaka Fattah (PA) 75% in favor of a national ID
  • Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Barbara Lee (CA) 25% in favor of a national ID
  • Michael M. Honda (CA) 75% in favor of a national ID
  • Betty McCollum (MN) 25% in favor of a national ID
  • Steve Israel (NY) 75% in favor of a national ID
  • Tim Ryan (OH) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD) 75% in favor of a national ID
  • Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL) 75% in favor of a national ID
  • Henry Cuellar (TX) 100% in favor of a national ID

Three Democrats currently on the House Appropriations Committee weren’t in Congress when REAL ID passed: Chellie Pingree (ME), Mike Quigley (IL), and Derek Kilmer (WA).

Senate appropriators generally have had only two chances to oppose a national ID. On the vote passing the spending bill that contained REAL ID and on the conference report for that bill. Long-term appropriators from both parties signed on to REAL ID without exception—every single one of them. Senate appropriators who previously served in the House (indicated by an “H” below) have a more diverse record, including Tammy Baldwin, who voted against all but the rule allowing REAL ID to be attached to the bill that carried it into law.

Senate Republicans

  • Thad Cochran (MS), Chairman 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Mitch McConnell (KY) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Richard C. Shelby (AL) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Lamar Alexander (TN) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Susan Collins (ME) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Lindsey Graham (SC) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Mark Kirk (IL) - H  100% in favor of a national ID
  • Roy Blunt (MO) - H 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Jerry Moran (KS) - H 100% in favor of a national ID
  • John Boozman (AR) - H 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Shelley Moore Capito (WV) - H 100% in favor of a national ID

Lisa Murkowski (AK), John Hoeven (ND), Bill Cassidy (LA), James Lankford (OK), and Steve Daines (MT) did not serve in the Senate or House during passage of REAL ID.

Senate Democrats

  • Barbara Mikulski (MD), ranking member 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Patrick J. Leahy (VT) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Patty Murray (WA) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Dianne Feinstein (CA) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Richard J. Durbin (IL) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Jack Reed (RI) 100% in favor of a national ID
  • Tom Udall (NM) - H 75% in favor of a national ID
  • Tammy Baldwin (WI) - H 25% in favor of a national ID

Jon Tester (MT), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Jeff Merkley (OR), Chris Coons (DE), Brian Schatz (HI), and Christopher Murphy (CT) did not serve in the House during passage of REAL ID.

In 2008, Senator Tester came to Cato to denounce the REAL ID law, but he hasn’t done anything that we know of to defund the national ID program using his share of power over the purse.

Fair-minded people may object that it’s unfair to count a vote on a bulky appropriations bill as pro-national-ID, or to do the same with standing by as a voice vote happens on a rule for debate in the House. But do you know what principled fighters for our liberties do? They vote against big, “important” bills because liberty is the most important thing. They buck the leadership and their colleagues’ precious deals to take down a bad rule.

There’s more to learn about the behavior of some of the shorter-serving members of the appropriations committees. They may have records that show where they are on national ID funding. If they’ve been going along with Department of Homeland Security spending bills that happen to include funding for REAL ID, that’s a pro-national-ID position that you just might be reading about here in the near future.