Real ID debate continues as party leaders cast blame

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Democratic lawmakers speak at the press conference | Photo by Fox 9's Samuel King

State lawmakers held dueling news conferences on Sunday, as they tried to cast blame for the delays in getting a Real ID bill passed. The backdrop was Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.

House Republicans went first, blaming Democrats for blocking the measure. They assert that Gov. Mark Dayton urged Senate Democrats to vote against a bill that does not allow for undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses.

“We have Democrats who have supported this bill in the past who voted No this time, because it didn't have driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants,” said House Speaker Kurt Daudt. “Democrats are trying to use this bill and the urgency of this issue to try and get something else controversial accomplished.”

Democrats followed the Republicans at the podium. They contend the issue of licenses for undocumented workers should be considered separately from any Real ID bill.

“There is a big basic question: what has the votes to pass? Because that's really going to required to pass real ID,” said State Sen Susan Kent, DFL – Woodbury. “I think we found a pathway, and so if we can pass this clean bill, we'll be on our way.”

The legislation passed in the House, but failed in the Senate. Five Republicans joined all Senate Democrats in voting against the bill last Monday.

Gov. Mark Dayton indicated on Sunday that he would sign any Real ID bill that reaches his desk. If a bill is not passed this session, Minnesotans would not be able to use regular driver’s licenses to board flights or enter federal facilities. Enhanced driver’s licenses and passports are alternatives.