As you probably know, Governor Spitzer has abandoned his plan to issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. This is good news for the security of New York and the nation.

As we learned on September 11th, a driver’s license has the potential to be a deadly tool in the hands of the wrong people. The 9/11 Commission and, most recently, New York State Senate hearings both revealed the danger posed by giving a driver’s license to anyone who wants one.

Under the Governor’s plan, New York would have issued three tiers of licenses, but only two of them would have complied with the federal REAL ID Act. This measure, which I supported in 2005, requires participating states to issue standardized, electronically readable driver’s licenses that meet the highest federal antiterrorist standards. Part of Governor Spitzer’s plan would have ignored this important legislation and instead offered licenses to illegal immigrants.

I strongly opposed the Governor’s plan and recently introduced legislation in Congress to try and stop it from becoming law in New York. Under my bill, any state that fails to comply with the REAL ID Act would lose 2% of its highway funding beginning in 2010, increasing to 4% the following year and up to 8% after 4 years. New York would have lost nearly $31 million in highway funding in 2010 -- and as much as $127 million by 2016 -- if Governor Spitzer had implemented his proposal. In addition, my bill will close a loophole in the REAL ID Act by requiring every license that is issued by a state to be REAL ID-compliant.

Although Governor Spitzer has abandoned his proposal, I am still going to push my legislation because I believe that a secure driver’s license is key to a safer America. No state should be issuing licenses that compromise our safety. In this day and age, every license should meet the highest security standards.