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Congress Proposes Trusted Traveler REAL ID Relief Act

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Beginning on October 1, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin enforcing enhanced REAL ID requirements for all airline passengers attempting to board a domestic flight within the U.S.

Even with a rapidly approaching deadline, it has become abundantly clear that most Americans do not yet have REAL ID-compliant forms of personal identification, and many are unaware that they need to take action to obtain one.

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In an effort to mitigate the potentially disastrous and chaotic effects that enforcement of the REAL ID requirements on an underprepared public could have on the aviation and travel industries, not to mention the impact on ground operations at U.S. airports, two congresswomen have today introduced the ‘Trusted Traveler REAL ID Relief Act of 2020’ (H.R. 5827) to the House of Representatives.

“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,” said Airports Council International-North America President and CEO Kevin M. Burke.

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ)—the top Republican on the Transportation and Maritime Security Subcommittee—and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) are the chief proponents of the bill designed to smooth the transition to full implementation of REAL ID requirements.

The Trusted Traveler REAL ID Relief Act would require that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) accept TSA PreCheck enrollment as an alternative to REAL ID-compliant identification for domestic air travel through April 1, 2022.

TSA would also be tasked with actively working to notify the public of the PreCheck exemption and finding ways to raise public awareness of all pending REAL ID requirements.

It would further require TSA to develop and implement alternative screening procedures for people who arrive at an airport security checkpoint after the October 1 deadline without REAL ID credentials or a Trusted Traveler program exemption.

The act would likewise buy more time for millions of folks who still need to apply for and obtain a REAL ID and allow State motor vehicle agencies the opportunity to establish new procedures through which individuals can submit their documents and facial images electronically, thus easing and expediting the entire process.

“AAAE appreciates this effort to provide creative ways to address the challenges posed by the October 1 REAL ID enforcement deadline,” commented 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.”

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CDC Issues Travel Advisory for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut

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After a tumultuous 48 hours, in which the state of Rhode Island threatened to stop any car with New York license plates and President Trump considered quarantining New Yorkers, the Centers for Disease Control issued a travel advisory urging residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to avoid out-of-state travel for 14 days due to the spread of coronavirus.

The CDC advisory issued Saturday night urged those living in the tri-state area to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.

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That excludes employees of critical infrastructure industries as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, according to Forbes, which includes “employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services, and food supply.”

The CDC said the governors of the three states will have full discretion to implement this Domestic Travel Advisory.

New York, and particularly New York City with its close proximity to New Jersey and Connecticut, has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, with 52,000 positives cases and more than 520 deaths alone.

The CDC decision capped an extraordinary couple of days that started when Rhode Island Gov. Raimondo ordered the National Guard and police to check drivers with New York license plates in the tiny state to see if they were new arrivals and needed to self-quarantine.

That – coming on the heels of Florida, Maryland, South Carolina and Texas ordering people from the tri-state area to self-quarantine for 14 days – included sending officials door-to-door to vacation homes in popular Rhode Island beachfront towns.

“I think that’s a reactionary policy and I don’t think that’s legal,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on CNN. “And we’re talking to Rhode Island now. If they don’t roll back that policy, I’m going to sue Rhode Island, because that clearly is unconstitutional.”

President Trump, talking briefly with reporters on the White House lawn before departing for Norfolk, Va., said that “Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s a hot spot. I’m thinking about that right now.”

Instead, the president instructed the CDC to issue its warning late Saturday night.

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