In the News: Senate Panel Criticizes Department of Homeland Security

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee criticized the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for pressuring reluctant states into adopting new federally approved driver’s licenses. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., accused DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff during a hearing of “bullying” states into compliance with the Real ID program with threats of blocking citizens’ travel by rejecting licenses as a proof of identification while boarding airplanes. Leahy urged a more productive negotiating process with the states. The program, intended to strengthen the authenticity of driver’s licenses, was conceived as a security measure after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Seventeen states have already passed legislation rejecting Real ID, citing concerns over costs and privacy. Current DHS guidelines give them until May to comply with the program at the risk of having their driver’s licenses no longer accepted as federal identification.

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