Gallegly: Real ID Provisions in Supplemental Will Make Country Safer
WASHINGTON, D.C.Congressman Elton Gallegly (R-Ventura & Santa Barbara Counties) today praised passage of the Emergency Supplemental Wartime Appropriations Act Conference Report by the House of Representatives, which includes provisions of the Real ID Act of 2005.
Gallegly is an original cosponsor of the Real ID Act.
Among other things, the Real ID Act sets minimum security criteria that states would have to meet to have their driver's licenses accepted as identification to board commercial flights or enter federal facilities, and makes it more difficult for terrorists to stay in the United States by requesting asylum.
"This is not a cure-all, but it is a major step forward in correcting major holes in our security," Gallegly said. "It means, for example, that when travelers use a driver's license to board an airplane we have greater confidence of their identity. It also makes it harder for terrorists to freely enter our country under an asylum claim and makes it easier to deport terrorists or terrorism supporters."
The driver's license provision does not create a national identification card, as opponents of the bill have argued, Gallegly said. The federal government will neither control nor regulate state driver's licenses. All the act does is create security standards that states will have to meet if they want their driver's licenses to be accepted as identification by federal agencies.
For driver's licenses to be acceptable to federal agencies, applicants must provide proof of lawful presence in the U.S., the licenses must meet tough physical security requirements to reduce counterfeiting, and driver's licenses issued to foreign visitors must expire when the visitor's visa expires.
"Many states accept easily forged identification issued by foreign governments, known as consular cards, to issue driver's licenses. Because no state can accurately determine the legitimacy of such easily forged cardsa point I have been arguing for yearscriminals and terrorists could find them a convenient way to build a false identity. The Real ID Act closes that loophole," Gallegly said.
In addition to the Real ID provisions, the conference report proposes a total of $75.9 billion for total defense-related expenditures, $921 million over the administration's request.
It increases the Death Benefit and Gratuity for the families of our fallen heroes by increasing the maximum Servicemember Group Life Insurance benefits from $250,000 to $400,000 and the onetime death gratuity for combat families from $12,000 to $100,000.
Counter-terror, anti-narcotics, and development projects in Afghanistan are provided for with $1.7 billion in funding. It also provides $200 million in economic and infrastructure assistance to the Palestinian Territories and $50 million for assistance for Israel to improve the efficiency and security of the flow of goods and people from the territories into Israel.
The bill passed the House on a 368-58 vote. The Senate is expected to approve the report next week and send it to the President for his signature.