National ID Card Put
On Hold - Congress To
Hold Hearings
Administration postpones implementation, Congress sets hearings
WASHINGTON -- The implementation of regulations already approved by Congress and the president creating national standards for state identification cards has been postponed.
U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, R-GA, announced Friday that his office has received a commitment from the Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs to hold hearings on the plan next month.
The regulations would have created a national ID card by Oct. 1, 2000. The Department of Transportation had been making final plans to create uniform federal standards for state-issued driver's licenses and county-issued birth certificates. The plans were a direct result of an obscure section of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which authorized the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish national requirements for driver's licenses -- making them, in effect, national ID cards.
The immigration bill was overwhelmingly approved by Congress, including members, like Barr, who say they didn't realize the law included provisions for a national ID card. That aspect of the law, and the Department of Transportation's final implementation plans were first revealed in WorldNetDaily two months ago. Barr's office credited WorldNetDaily with raising awareness of the issue with his constituents.
Responding to concerns raised by Barr, Rep. Ron Paul, R-TX, and other members of Congress, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published the following notice in the Federal Register: "A meeting was held on Aug. 4, 1998, in the Office of the Transportation Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations. Congressman Barr, Chairman Smith and Congressman Paul, congressional staff members and NHTSA representatives attended the meeting. At the meeting, the agency was asked to consider reopening the comment period for this rulemaking action, to permit all interested parties to have sufficient time to consider the agency's proposal and to provide their written comments. After considering these requests, NHTSA has concluded that it is in the public interest to allow additional time for comments."
"I am eager to bring this entire matter to the public's attention in congressional hearings," said Barr. "I do not believe Americans are interested in giving the federal government unprecedented power to track and identify them. Hopefully, these hearings will be the beginning of the end of efforts to create a national identification system."
Barr said he appreciated efforts by the American Civil Liberties Union, Christian Coalition, the Libertarian Party, the CATO Institute and other groups which protested the plan.
"While delaying these regulations is only the first step toward ending the drive for a national identification card, it is an important first step," said Barr. "I am pleased the administration listened to our concerns and extended the public comment period on these regulations until Oct. 2, 1998."
Barr and Paul launched the fight against the national ID card plan at the same time they attacked Executive Order 13083, which, they said, represented a pattern of unconstitutional administration policies and directives dramatically restricting individual and states' rights.
EO 13083 gave the federal government sweeping new powers in issues previously reserved to state and local authorities and was also first exposed by WorldNetDaily. Pressure from local and state officials resulted in the White House backing down and postponing implementation of that order.
The DOT plans called for fingerprinting and the inclusion of biometric data to be imbedded in the new ID cards. Ultimately, the cards would be required for buying guns, getting loans, even securing medical care, said critics.