WASHINGTON – U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., a member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, and Congresswoman Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., the top Republican on the Transportation and Maritime Security Subcommittee, introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure Floridians can continue to travel safely and efficiently in the wake of changing identification standards for airline passengers. H.R. 5827, the Trusted Traveler REAL ID Relief Act, would allow airline travelers in the U.S. to use a TSA PreCheck Known Traveler Number as an alternative to REAL ID when new traveling ID requirements take effect on Oct. 1, 2020. This bill also requires TSA to develop a contingency plan to address travelers who attempt to travel without REAL ID-compliant credentials.
Passed in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks, the REAL ID Act increased minimum security standards for state-issued identification cards and prohibited federal agencies from allowing airline passengers with incompliant driver’s licenses and identification cards to board an airplane. It is estimated that nearly 100 million Americans do not currently possess an acceptable form of identification, such as a REAL ID license, U.S. passport, U.S. military ID, or a DHS trusted traveler card. As a year-round tourist destination, Florida could be harmed by the hasty implementation of these security identification standards. Florida also has the highest percentage of senior citizens and is home to millions of non-native English speakers.
“Despite a rapidly approaching deadline, not enough Americans are aware of the new and heightened ID travel requirements,” said Murphy. “This commonsense bill allows those enrolled in TSA PreCheck to continue their journey without disruption, smoothing the transition to these enhanced security standards.”
“As the October 1, 2020 deadline quickly approaches, many Americans are still without REAL ID-compliant identification,” said Lesko. “Only 16% of Americans believe they have a REAL ID, while approximately 99 million Americans say they do not have any form of REALID-compliant identification. These figures are clear indicators of the mass confusion, chaos, and delays that will most certainly occur across our nation’s airports if proper measures are not taken by October 1. We must take action to ensure a seamless transition when REAL ID requirements take effect.”
“The aviation industry remains concerned about the implementation of REAL ID for boarding commercial aircraft and appreciates Congress’ attention to this critical issue,” said Sharon Pinkerton, Senior Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Policy for Airlines for America (A4A). “The Trusted Traveler REAL ID Relief Act is a positive step toward ensuring that the 2.4 million people who travel every day will be able to flow through the system as seamlessly as possible this fall.”
“AAAE appreciates this effort to provide creative ways to address the challenges posed by the October 1 REAL ID enforcement deadline,” said Todd Hauptli, President and CEO of the American Association of Airport Executives. We look forward to working with Congress, the administration, and our industry partners to advance solutions that ensure the traveling public is not grounded on October 1.”
“Travel advisors are doing their part to educate the public on the looming REAL ID deadline, but getting implementation right and preventing real harm to the travel industry will require an ‘all hands on deck’ approach,” said Zane Kerby, President and CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA). “We applaud Congresswoman Lesko and Congresswoman Murphy for their leadership on this issue and look forward to both supporting this commonsense legislation and to working with government and industry stakeholders to make sure REALID implementation goes as smoothly as possible.”
“Airports are concerned that the low penetration of REAL ID compliant identification among the traveling public will negatively impact passengers and airport operations,” said Kevin M. Burke, President and CEO of the Airports Council International-North America. “If, on October 1, millions of passengers are unable to board their flights when they arrive at airports, it will significantly disrupt the lives of individuals as well as operations throughout our interconnected aviation system. We appreciate Rep. Debbie Lesko and Rep. Stephanie Murphy for recognizing the harm this could have on the U.S. aviation system – a major pillar of our national economy – and for offering practical solutions to help ease the transition to full implementation of REAL ID. DHS and TSA should continue to advance initiatives to raise public awareness about the upcoming REAL ID deadline while working to identify alternatives that minimize the impact on the traveling public.”
“If REAL ID standards were put into effect immediately, nearly 80,000 Americans could be turned away from the TSA checkpoint on the first day,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy for U.S. Travel. “With the evolution of security and technology in the 15 years since the REAL ID Act was passed, the Trusted Traveler REAL ID Relief Act advances discussions on ensuring a smooth transition into REAL ID enforcement and the future of security screening. We applaud Reps. Lesko and Murphy for taking this positive step toward modernizing our travel security systems.”
On Oct. 1, 2020, the REAL ID Act, which requires enhanced driver’s licenses for domestic flight, will come into full implementation. Floridians flying outbound to other U.S. states and territories will also be affected by implementation of the REAL ID Act. Airport travelers on domestic flights without a REAL ID-compliant credential will not be able to proceed through TSA security screening, and thus will be unable to board their flight. Travelers on international flights will be able to use their passports. Infrequent flyers and seniors are more likely to be unaware of the changing identification requirements. The 20 percent of Florida residents who are over age 65 could face substantial hurdles to coming into REAL ID compliance such as transportation to a DMV facility or access to a birth certificate. Older Americans who are turned away by TSA officials due to being REAL ID incompliant might not be able to make alternative arrangements to get to their destinations and might be discouraged from booking air travel again.
The Trusted Traveler REAL ID Relief Act:
- Requires the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to accept PreCheck enrollment as an alternative to REAL ID-compliant identification for domestic air travel until Apr. 1, 2022.
- Requires TSA to notify the public of the PreCheck exemption and to partner with stakeholders to inform the public of all pending REAL ID implementation requirements.
- Requires TSA to develop and implement alternative screening procedures for those who arrive at an airport checkpoint without an acceptable REAL ID credential or exemption.
- Provides opportunity for airports to request that TSA coordinate with air carriers, airport operators, and relevant law enforcement agencies to conduct REAL ID implementation exercises in preparation for Oct. 2020.
- Allows State motor vehicle agencies to establish procedures through which individuals can submit electronic documents and facial images when applying for a REAL ID compliant identification.