Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
As the U.S. Senate begins debate today on measures to modify the REAL ID Act, which mandates standardized identification nationwide, what action Congress' upper house will take is clearly unclear.
I tried to find every senator who has staked out a position on the legislation and discovered a couple of things. First, most senators who have said something on REAL ID (which states claim, if unamended, would cost them billions of dollars and inconvenience DMV patrons) have called for changes to the law.
However, among these senators there's no obvious consensus as to what change should take place, with options ranging from providing federal funding to delaying the May 2008 implementation deadline to fundamentally altering the requirements.
And, furthermore, most senators haven't publicly taken any position at all. Many state officials are lobbying them to make changes, but the Bush administration and one of the heads of 9/11 Commission are actively supporting the law.
There are also a couple of caveats to keep in mind. Some of these statements are now nearly two years old, so positions could have changed. Also, even though some of the critical remarks date from when the Senate approved the law in 2005, it still passed on a 100-0 vote.
With that in mind, here's the list of senators whose views I was able to find:
Joe Lieberman (I-CT): "...may actually increase a terrorist's ability to commit identity theft."
Harry Reid (D-NV) "anti-immigrant legislation couched in the language of antiterrorism."
Richard Durbin (D-IL): will make trips to the DMV worse
John Sununu (R-NH): "The federal government should not be in charge of defining and issuing drivers' licenses."
Lamar Alexander (R-TN): "This will turn DMV clerks into the CIA."
Russ Feingold (D-WI): changes needed
Susan Collins (R-ME): delay until 2010
John Warner (R-VA): feds should delay or provide funding
Patrick Leahy (D-VT): has criticized certain provisions
Bill Nelson (D-FL): "...it's going to cause a great inconvenience, especially to the senior citizens of this country."
Daniel Akaka (D-HI): repeal the law
Patty Murray (D-WA): the feds should pay
Bob Menendez (D-NJ): could lead to racial profiling
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX): "We must secure our borders and implement stricter identification requirements..."
Judd Gregg (R-NH): stops "nefarious use of state driver's licenses by terrorists and other criminals."
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.