The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the PASS ID Act earlier today by a voice vote. The bill would repeal the 2005 REAL ID, which many state and federal officials say is too expensive to adhere to. PASS ID, however, would reduce many of the safety precautions included in REAL ID as recommended by the 9/11 Commission.
The Department of Homeland Security lauded today's Senate Committee vote.
"On the same day that Secretary Napolitano highlighted the Department’s efforts to combat terrorism and keep our country safe during a speech in New York City, Congress took a major step forward on the PASS ID secure identification legislation," said a DHS press release. "As the 9/11 Commission report noted, fraudulent identification documents are dangerous weapons for terrorists, but progress has stalled towards securing identification documents under the top-down, proscriptive approach of the REAL ID Act -- an approach that has led thirteen states to enact legislation prohibiting compliance with the Act."
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) offered the most resistance to the bill's passing through the committee, but a compromise was reached before today's vote. Both Senators expressed concern that people without PASS ID compliant identification would still be able to board a plane. According to a CongressDaily report, passengers still will not have to show a PASS ID to board a plane.
The article reported: "people would be able to board planes without a PASS ID but would not have a legal claim against TSA if they are prevented from boarding."
Senators Lieberman and Collins also expressed concern over the verification of different forms of identification such as birth certificates. Although, the bill passed today does require stricter verification guidelines, it gives the states five years to meet the requirements and no details of what they need to do to verify identification were given.
Janice Kephart from the Center of Immigration Studies criticized PASS ID a few months ago, writing that PASS ID weakens ID verification requirements, which was a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. Kepler also wrote that PASS ID will give states money with no method to account how the money is used and it also eliminates information sharing between states.
Updated: Wed, Jul 29th 2009 @ 1:03pm EDT