Senator Susan Collins, a Republican of Maine, is the author of the latest effort to sell reluctant states on the REAL ID Act, the 2005 measure which would coerce states into issuing nationally standardized driver’s licenses and require them to enter information about their drivers in nationally accessible databases.
Despite Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s public insistence that the Act needs to be implemented rapidly, the administration, and Mr. Chertoff himself, appear happy to avoid an immediate confrontation with the states and to go along with Ms. Collins’ sales tactic. The Maine Senator introduced a bill, and pressed it as an amendment on the Senate floor, to extend the deadline for state compliance with the REAL ID Act, allowing companies in favor of the measure time to work in state capitols to calm the burgeoning rebellion.
Sen. Collins’ counter-rebellion role is laden with irony. The revolt, after all, started in her own New England state. In late January, George Smith, executive director of the Maine Sportsmen’s Alliance, stood to denounce the REAL ID Act at a community forum in Augusta. A Norman Rockwell painting come to life with the directness and accent of a lifelong Mainer, he said: “They had their Boston Tea Party. Let’s have a REAL ID Party!”
The next day, the Maine House and Senate passed a resolution to reject REAL ID by overwhelming margins.
More on Real ID, which both Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl supported….