Wicker, Cantwell, Other Leaders Raise Concerns About REAL ID Deadline

January 24, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., chairman and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, along with other leaders of committees of jurisdiction, sent a letter to Acting Secretary Chad Wolf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to inquire about the agency’s contingency plans regarding the upcoming REAL ID Act implementation deadline.  

Excerpt from the letter to Acting Secretary Wolf:

“We are increasingly concerned about potential disruptions to air travel if significant numbers of travelers present themselves at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints without acceptable forms of identification. According to TSA, only 27 percent of Americans have been issued a REAL ID-compliant license. Furthermore, a recent survey revealed only 43 percent of Americans are aware of the deadline and concluded that 85,000 travelers could be denied access to their flights on the first day of implementation of REAL ID at airports if preparedness does not improve.

DHS’s efforts will play a crucial role in ensuring that the public is aware of the deadline and takes the necessary steps to acquire compliant identification. Additionally, it is critical that the Department do everything possible to ensure that Americans are not needlessly prevented from boarding flights to engage in business and tourism and visit family and friends. DHS should also develop contingency plans to deal with disruption at airports.   

We are encouraged by the Department’s increased public awareness campaign. As the leadership of key congressional committees with interest in this topic, we will continue to hold the Department accountable on this matter and request that you keep us informed of the Department’s progress. To help inform our committees’ oversight, please describe by February 7, 2020, the Department’s efforts to develop contingency plans to prepare for potential disruptions at screening checkpoints that may accompany the October 1, 2020, deadline should a significant number of travelers arrive without a REAL ID compliant driver’s license or other acceptable forms of identification (e.g. passport, military ID).”

Other members of Congress that have signed the letter include: Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Gary Peters, D-Mich., chairman and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Sam Graves, R-Mo., chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure; and Reps. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Mike Rogers, R-Ala., chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. 

Read the full letter to Acting Secretary Wolf here. The Commerce Committee exercises jurisdiction over the Transportation Security Administration.