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Last-minute deals on Capitol Hill may remove a previously negotiated moratorium on the national ID card, and one organization opposed to the card is not surprised or disappointed.
The law was already passed by Congress in 1996 and a national ID for all Americans will soon be in use unless changes to the law are made soon. The omnibus appropriations bill contained a ban on the national ID, first exposed in WorldNetDaily, but over the weekend efforts were made to remove that ban.
A great many bills were never voted on during the year. With elections just around the corner, politicians want to go home to their districts and brag about something they’ve done this past year. The omnibus bill contains thousands of pages, including many pet projects intended to win votes.
The main purpose of the bill, negotiated last week and scheduled for a vote tomorrow, is to approve the budget and keep government in business. Prior to the negotiations last week, all sides were predicting a shut-down of government over disagreements in the budget. No one in Congress wants to explain to voters why government has come to a grinding halt just before an election, so the passage of the omnibus bill is assured, along with anything else attached to it.
“There are so many deals that have been made and are still being made that no one will ever know exactly what’s in that thing and what’s not until long
after the vote is over and the members all go home to campaign,” explained a congressional aide who did not wish to be named.
The moratorium was first included in the transportation appropriations bill, but Rep. Lamar Smith, R-TX, convinced Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-GA, to remove it before passage, according to House Transportation Committee sources.
The ban on the national ID was then included the omnibus bill. However, Smith has continued to make efforts to kill the provision, according to a congressional source who has been working on the ban.
“It’s very hard to say just what will happen, but I do know that Smith has
recruited help from some other members and the Speaker is considering their requests,” said the source yesterday. It was Smith who got the national ID ban out of the transportation appropriations bill.
“It was reported that Lamar Smith had obtained an agreement from Speaker Gingrich to eliminate this provision from the bill,” reported Patrick Poole of the Free Congress Foundation. The ban was back in the bill “after many House members openly complained to the speaker about Lamar Smith’s seemingly religious devotion to the national ID idea and the American people’s vehement opposition to being branded and tagged by the U.S. government,” explained Poole.
Numerous organizations opposed to the concept of a national ID rallied their
members to send thousands of letters, faxes, and make phone calls to Congress for the past two weeks. Rep. Smith could not be reached on Sunday night by WorldNetDaily, but he did publish a letter in the Washington Times last Tuesday because of the many calls his office received.
“I do not support a national ID card and don’t know anyone in Congress who
does,” said Smith in his letter. He tried to label those voicing opposition as radicals when he added, “There are fringe groups that believe the United Nations is taking over Yellowstone National Park, that Congress is creating a national ID card or that they have been abducted by UFOs.”
The law to create a national ID card was passed as part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. One section of the act requires all states to make their driver’s licenses comply with certain guidelines found in Section 656 (b) of the act, including the use of the Social Security Number on all licences and in all data bases beginning Oct. 1, 2000.
The act also calls for digitized biometric information to be a part of each license, or “smart card.” The biometric information will include fingerprints, retina scans, DNA prints, and other similar information.
Responsibility for the design and implementation of the cards has been given to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the Department of Transportation. That agency has recently published the proposed “Driver’s License/SSN/National Identification Document,” which contains the guidelines which must be in force by each state — a federal mandate once campaigned against by many conservative Republicans.
“These new national ID regulations violate every notion of federalism, because they force states to comply with regulations issued by the federal government without any constitutional authority to do so,” said Poole recently. “Nor are federal agencies empowered to force states to gather detailed information on every person in order to comply with federal mandates. The net result of the DOT’s regulations is to establish a national ID system, which has been opposed by almost every non-governmental sector for the past five decades.”
House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-TX, Rep. Ron Paul, R-TX, and Rep. Bob Barr, R-GA, have been working on repeal legislation, but there was insufficient time to bring it to a vote during this session of Congress.
The DOT solicited public comments on their plans for implementation of Section 656 (b) of the act earlier this year. The public comment period has just closed and many thousands of letters in opposition were received, according to a spokesman. Five states also expressed opposition to the plan, and only a “small number” of letters supporting the plan were known to the spokesman, who spoke on condition that his name would not be published.
One group that has worked diligently for the repeal of the national ID card was not surprised to learn of plans to remove the ban from the omnibus bill.
“I won’t be terribly disappointed if the one-year moratorium is removed from the appropriations bill. In fact, if left in, the moratorium may actually serve to provide an unwelcomed delay in this issue being addressed by Congress and the DOT,” said Scott McDonald leader of “Fight the Fingerprint.”
McDonald says his group will use the situation to educate more people regardless of which way the bill ends up. He is concerned that national debate on the national ID will be delayed by the ban and would lessen the chances to get the law repealed. McDonald wants the debate to begin now.
“Time is on the side of the proponents of the national ID. Opposition to any issue tends to wane as time passes. The American people have already firmly stated their strong opposition to the DOT’s proposed standardized driver’s license proposal. Now it’s time for the DOT to act on behalf of the people they serve. The DOT should go back to Congress with a report stating that the American people do not want a national ID which the 1996 immigration law would establish via standardized driver’s licenses,” explained McDonald on Sunday.
McDonald’s group is opposed to the use of Social Security numbers from
being used as past of driver’s licences and in centralized government
databases tied to driver’s licenses and other government documents. His
group is also opposed to the use of fingerprints on such records.
In the event there is a moratorium on the implementation of the National ID,
McDonald predicts there will be a good chance the DOT will design a compromise which will keep Social Security numbers off licences but keep the number on license applications and in universal data bases to keep track of individuals.
Without a moratorium, a report must be provided by DOT detailing the responses they received from the public on the issue. McDonald wants Congress to see that report as soon as possible.
“Without the temporary reprieve, the DOT is required by law to respond to all public comments which have been filed with the agency, and to publish their responses in the Federal Register,” said McDonald. “I am anxious to see their responses. If the moratorium goes into effect, the DOT may be able to avoid this mandatory requirement. The American people deserve to be know what the DOT’s official position is in response to the objections raised by those individuals and groups who took the time to object.”