DES MOINES—A new federal law requiring that drivers license applicants provide proof they are American citizens or legal residents drew criticism from Gov. Mike Huckabee and some of his peers at the National Governors Association meeting here.
Huckabee and other governors who attended a closed-door security briefing Monday with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said they appreciated his comments but don’t like the new requirement because it will create monetary and other problems for individual states.
Huckabee, who was named chairman of NGA on Monday, said the so-called REAL ID Act was an “ill-conceived and hastily developed approach that will prove disastrous.”
Congress passed the bill and President Bush made it a law in June.
The Arkansas governor said it is a policy problem because “states are essentially being asked to do a federal responsibility because the federal government doesn’t have the courage to do what they think must be done.”
“It’s going to cause states to incur enormous costs without reimbursement or consideration,” he said, adding that the cost of getting a drivers license would increase “threefold.”
Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, outgoing chairman of the NGA, said the $100 million Congress has allocated to states to pay for the identification cards is what it would cost for just Virginia alone.
“Are Americans really ready to pay $50 to $100 for one of these identification cards and stand in lines for hours?” Warner asked.
Huckabee said he didn’t hold Chertoff responsible for the REAL ID Act.
“The secretary is certainly not responsible; it’s a congressional action,” Huckabee said, adding that the new law actually was tacked on to an overall spending bill for the military earlier this year.
He said most lawmakers probably didn’t support the identification proposal but didn’t want to vote against military funding.
Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen also said he had real concerns about the new law and said he and other governors attending the briefing believe it’s an unfunded mandate.