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Honorable Mark Sanford

Representing the 1st District of South Carolina

Sanford Requests 9-Month Extension to Comply with REAL ID Requirements

Nov 16, 2016
Press Release


November 16, 2016


WASHINGTON, DC - Representative Mark Sanford was joined by ten colleagues in sending a letter today to Secretary Jeh Johnson. It urges the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider its decision denying five states - South Carolina, Oklahoma, Maine, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania - requested extensions in their compliance with the REAL ID law. 

If these states are not compliant with the REAL ID Act by January 20, 2017, then residents of those states who do not have identification that is REAL ID-compliant will not be able to enter a secure federal building, or military base, and on January 22, 2018, the Transportation Security Administration will no longer accept state licenses at airports.

“In 2008, I joined with then-Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer to formally object to the Department of Homeland Security on the implementation of REAL ID,” said Sanford. “In so doing, South Carolina and Montana were the first two states to act as catalysts in Homeland Security’s decision to lessen or not enforce 26 of the REAL ID’s worst aspects. And I did so as governor because the law clearly violates the Founders’ intent in offering the 10th Amendment, which states that all powers not given to the federal government are given to the people or the states. It was then a $17 billion unfunded federal mandate on states and, if not deferred or stopped, will amount to yet another federal usurpation of state authority. Given the fact that 17 other states and territories have been granted extensions for fulfilling the REAL ID requirements, it seems reasonable that all states should be treated equally in this regard.”

“The REAL ID Act is an unfunded mandate that threatens personal privacy and violates state sovereignty. The federal government should not force states to issue what amounts to a national ID card,” Congressman Thomas Massie said.


Full text of the letter is below:

November 16, 2016 

The Honorable Jeh Johnson
 United States Department of Homeland Security
 301 7th Street SW, Mail Stop 0501
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We write today with respect for you and your Department’s efforts on behalf of securing the homeland. 

The Department of Homeland Security has designated South Carolina, Oklahoma, Maine, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania as noncompliant states, and as of January 30, 2017, these states’ drivers’ licenses will no longer be accepted at secure federal facilities.  We respectfully request that the Department reconsider its extension denials, and allow South Carolina, Oklahoma, Maine, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania to receive an extension until October 10, 2017. 

Given the importance of identification integrity, we are sure that you can appreciate the efforts in our respective states to establish more secure identity credentials.  We ask that the Department reconsider for the following reasons:

  • Cost: The REAL ID Act was originally estimated to cost $17 billion, with the overwhelming majority of that cost falling on the states.  While that cost has been revised downwards in recent years, fulfilling the requirements of the Act continues to be a significant burden on state budgets. 
  • Complexity: As of 2014, according the Federal Highway Administration, our states had a total of 19 million licensed drivers.  Any major credentialing change to a population that large will take time.  The Department has recognized this since the law’s passage, and continued to provide extensions for states since the original beginning of REAL ID implementation in 2008. 
  • Significant progress towards fulfillment: All of our respective states have made significant strides towards improving ID security, and are meeting the vast majority of REAL ID’s requirements. 
  • Equal Treatment: 17 states have been granted extensions for fulfilling the requirements of REAL ID.  They, like our states, are partially meeting the requirements of the law.  We believe that states in partial fulfillment should be treated equally.   

We appreciate you taking the time to read this letter and all the work you do in the service of our country.