Extension, details for states on Real ID

After years of rangling with states over the unfunded mandate that is the Real ID national ID card program, Administration finally provides details and a five year extension.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor

After two years of legislative wrangling over a national ID program, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is finally laying out state responsibilities on how to implement the program, reports the Washington Post.

The Bush administration has also agreed to postpone the launch of the "Real ID" program in response to complaints about the projected $11 billion cost and potential disruptions, congressional and Department of Homeland Security officials said yesterday.

The Real ID program was an unfunded federal program that would force states into paying for the program by raising taxes or tuition, or diverting money from education or health initiatives.

"We are for the first time in history creating a national ID card, with all the ramifications of that," Alexander said. "Let's make sure we know what we're doing," said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

The new standard would require IDs to contain information on citizenship status, birth certificate information and driver histories and connect with other state and federal databases. These IDs would be acceptable for purposes such as boarding airplanes or entering courthouses.

While the Real ID law originally had a May 2008 deadline, the administration feels that states can replace 245 million licenses held by Americans on a "reasonably prompt basis" over five years.

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