Senate Balks at Real ID Act

Congressional Quarterly is reporting (subscription required) that the Senate will strip the Real ID Act from the supplemental appropriations bill when it considers the legislation in committee next week. Ultimately this means that the House and Senate will battle over this provision during conference negotiations, which should happen quickly after Senate passage.

The Real ID Act passed the House in February, but stalled in the Senate. In late March the House attached the bill to the supplemental appropriations legislation, which funds military operations in Iraq, among other locations, and provides tsunami relief. The bill is considered an urgent “must pass” measure.

The Real ID Act is controversial and has generated a lot of debate over the past several months, particularly in the privacy community. The legislation has two main parts: 1) more stringent asylum requirements for those seeking it in the US, and 2) minimum standard requirements for state driver’s licenses and a data sharing network among states. We have been following the debate on the second part, because of the technical and privacy/national ID issues raised by the requirements of the proposed legislation.

Last year, it was added to legislation to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission (the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004), but it quickly became a sticking point between House and Senate negotiators. Ultimately, the Senate won out and the provisions were watered down, but it was clear that this was going to be a top priority for the House again this year.

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