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Senate backs away from Real ID Act
So the U.S. Senate on Wednesday took a surprisingly anti-Real ID Act
stand in a vote related to the immigration bill being debated this week.
The proceduralia is a little complex: fans of Real ID tried to table
(that is, kill) an anti-Real ID amendment sponsored by Baucus and
Tester. That vote failed by 45 to 52.
An article I wrote is here:
A list of the amendments with page numbers is here:
You can see that the Baucus-Tester amendment starts on page 131, so go
to that page in this PDF:
This is the underlying bill it's amending (search for Real ID, including
in section 302):
This is preliminary, true, but it's refreshing to see some skepticism
about Real ID in what purports to be the world's greatest deliberative
body. A press release follows.
June 27, 2007
BAUCUS, TESTER HALT IMMIGRATION DEBATE
Senators' Measure To Get Rid Of REAL ID Stalls Sweeping Immigration Bill
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester brought the
debate over immigration reform to a grinding halt today on the Senate
floor. After opponents of Baucus and Tester's amendment to strike REAL
ID requirements failed to muster a majority of votes, debate on the
controversial immigration bill came to a standstill.
Baucus and Tester's provision strikes language from the immigration bill
that requires employers to check the eligibility of their prospective
employees only using identification documents that comply with REAL ID,
a federal mandate the Montana senators say amounts to a national ID
Opponents failed to kill the Baucus-Tester amendment today on a thin
45-52 vote. It wasn't immediately clear what effect the vote will have
on the underlying bill, but opponents have called the provisions a "deal
breaker" as it relates to the whole immigration bill. Baucus said he
thinks the vote is a "death knell to a bad immigration bill." Senate
business, which was early slated to extend into Wednesday evening,
halted for the night after the controversial Baucus-Tester vote.
"We scored a major victory today in our efforts to protect privacy and
defeat a bad immigration bill at the same time," said Baucus, Montana's
senior U.S. Senator. "If Jon and I just brought down the entire bill,
that's good for Montana and the country."
REAL ID requires states to standardize their driver's licenses and build
costly new databases that the federal government can access, essentially
creating a national ID system. Earlier this year, the Montana
Legislature unanimously passed legislation refusing to implement the
program because it invades privacy and can expose private information to
identity thieves, and because of its enormous cost.
Tester, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and a staunch
supporter of privacy rights, said REAL ID isn't needed to toughen
"If by fighting to keep government out of people's private lives, Max
Baucus and I stopped the senate from passing this flawed immigration
bill, then this was a real victory for Montana and the American people,"
Baucus and Tester cited several other reasons for their amendment:
* Employers don't need REAL ID to verify the eligibility of their
employees. They currently check eligibility using existing documents,
such as birth certificates, a drivers license, or a passport.
* More and more states are rejecting the REAL ID Act. Fifteen
other states in addition to Montana have enacted legislation opposing or
refusing to implement the program.
* The immigration bill only authorizes $1.5 billion for REAL ID,
although estimates put the actual cost for states as high as $23
Posted by Declan McCullagh on Jun 28, 2007
in category privacy
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