Passed by Congress in 2005 — without any debate — Real ID is nothing more than an attempt by Congress to strong‐arm the states into accepting and funding a national ID scheme. It requires states to produce new, standardized driver’s licenses with machine‐readable technology, and to create databases that hold copies of American citizens’ sensitive identity documents. The tab for all of this is expected to be nearly $17 billion, with the state governments forced to shoulder the majority of the financial burden.
Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania House unanimously passed legislation barring the implementation of Real ID. The Senate is expected to consider similar legislation this fall.
In this tight economy, it is necessary for everybody, including members of Congress and state officials, to tighten their belts and make budgetary decisions based on priorities. States should not be forced to change their priorities or raise taxes and fees because of an unfunded federal mandate — especially not one that offers false security at the expense of our privacy and civil liberties.
Gov. Edward Rendell knows Pennsylvania’s priorities better than Congress and federal bureaucrats in the Department of Homeland Security. He has made it a priority to improve the state’s infrastructure. The governor has committed significant financial resources to rebuilding 411 of the state’s 6,034 structurally deficient bridges. At least when money goes to infrastructure like bridges, taxpayers get something they can use in return.
Gov. Rendell recently began his tenure as chairman of the National Governor’s Association. His “Chair’s Initiative” will focus on similar policies: Strengthening infrastructure investment across the country. After last year’s bridge collapse in Minneapolis, which claimed 13 lives, this is a clearer way to protect citizens and save lives than implementing the Real ID boondoggle.
The states’ revolt against Real ID is unprecedented in modern American history and it demonstrates the breadth of the opposition. In states across the country, political leaders from both the left and the right have rejected this dangerous and unworkable program.
Real ID suffers from serious flaws that will affect the rights of every American. It mandates that every state’s database — containing Social Security cards, copies of birth certificates, etc. — be linked and accessible to tens of thousands of DMV employees.