The congressionally mandated national ID system moved with little discussion from big idea to law. As the devilish details emerge, it's proving easier mandated than done--and leaving immigrants to face the consequences.
At a moment in congressional history when passing even the narrowest of legislation seems all but impossible, the REAL ID Act is a reminder that, even now, the country's leaders can sneak far-reaching schemes into law like contraband onto an airplane.
Last week, on Friday, Jan. 11, the Department of Homeland Security released its complete explanation of how federal agencies will implement the national identification law Congress passed in 2005. The much-awaited regulations do little to mitigate either REAL ID’s logistical problems or its civil liberties concerns. Nor do they offer states significant relief in meeting the feds’ looming deadlines on turning their big idea into a day-to-day reality for Americans.
The first year of the 110th Congress closed with a great deal of spilled blood, and few victories for liberals. In just the last weeks of the past session, Democrats fought a series of gladiator battles over issues like energy, the Iraq war, and government spending—and lost every one of them in the Senate. But on the one issue that Democrats had by-and-large decided to cede to their opponents, they were ... still unable to get very far.
As the year draws to a close, it will be tempting for pundits -- liberal and otherwise -- to despair at the Democrats' inability to wield their new congressional leadership to affect real and swift change in the country. After all, the war in Iraq not only continues, but 2007 was its deadliest year. FISA presents a greater danger to American civil liberties today than it did when the Democrats took their gavels in January. And the radiant vision of Karl Rove being escorted down Pennsylvania Avenue to jail never came to pass.
About five years ago, a young Iranian man became involved with the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., where he joined a program through which college students and recent graduates learn practical skills in conflict resolution. At the end of his stay, he returned to Iran, where he became a member of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, via e-mail, kept in touch with his religious friends in the United States.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is trying to revive a once-lively effort to hold the White House accountable for obstructing congressional oversight. Also: the explosive failure of a telecom immunity compromise.
The Senate Judiciary Committee moved to revive a fading congressional zeal for holding the Bush administration accountable to Congress on Thursday by passing contempt resolutions against two of four White House officials who have refused to fully comply with committee subpoenas. The resolutions passed 12 to 7, with Republicans Charles Grassley of Iowa and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania voting with the Democrats.