Billcould substitute drivers’ licenses for passports

Published on Thu, Feb 22, 2007 by ara Nelson

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Bill could substitute drivers’ licenses for passports

By Tara Nelson

A bill introduced by Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) February 14 would require the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a state driver’s license pilot program that could be used to cross the U.S./Canadian border, thereby avoiding the passport requirement outlined in the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).

The state identification cards would be tested under the bill to determine if a state may enhance their driver’s licenses to meet WHTI standards, exempt U.S. and Canadian children under the age of 16 from WHTI requirements and encourage flexibility for school groups.
The bill, known as the Protecting American Commerce and Travel Act, or PACT Act, would also set the cost of a PASS card to $20 for the first year of issuance in order to encourage early compliance and require that the card be processed within 10 business days after the State Department receives the application.

The bill has garnered the support of the Travel Industry of America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Niagara-based Binational Tourism Alliance (BTA).

It was co-sponsored by Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN) as well as two Republicans – Representative John McHugh (R-NY) and Representative Donald Manzullo (R-IL).

“The current WHTI proposal will devastate tourism and trade with Canada and we simply cannot afford to let that happen,” Slaughter said. “I feel strongly that my bill is the model that DHS and State should follow, and I am happy to see wide support for this commonsensical legislation.”