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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

Places in Washington DC

Norton Meets with High-Ranking TSA Official to Solve Persistent Questioning of D.C. Licenses and IDs at Airports

Aug 18, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After meeting with a top Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official last week, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), who chairs the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said that she believes that the TSA has found a new way to resolve the recurring problems that D.C. residents are having when using their D.C. driver’s license as identification, particularly at airports.  TSA will ensure that all three D.C. licenses currently in circulation are a part of the daily transportation security officers’ (TSOs) shift briefings.  TSA will also hold a new four-hour training for travel document checkers (TDCs), supervisors, and TSOs in September; an hour will be devoted to identification of licenses, and will include images of the three current D.C. licenses in circulation.

Norton asked for a meeting after receiving continuing reports from constituents that TSA officials are not recognizing forms of D.C. identification.  Norton said she was grateful for the immediate action taken by TSA Administrator John Pistole when she contacted him when the first complaints arose earlier this year.  Pistole informed Norton that the TSA released a message on July 17 to all Federal Security Directors (FSD), FSD staff, and Coordination Center Managers at all TSA airports to remind them that D.C. driver’s licenses are acceptable.  TSA also released a training brief on the same day that provided photo examples of the IDs.  All TSA employees who perform travel document checking function were required to complete the training within one week.  When constituents continued to experience delays at airports, Norton asked for a sit-down meeting.

“D.C. residents were caught short when their licenses were questioned,” Norton said.  “Residents are sensitive about invidious treatment, considering what Congress throws at them.  I appreciate the remedial actions led by top officials at the TSA.” 

Norton’s office has continued to receive complaints from residents about this persistent issue, including the most recent report from WFTV Washington correspondent Justin Gray, who was stopped at a TSA checkpoint at an airport in Orlando.   A different example of denial of recognition occurred recently in New Hampshire, when a District resident was prevented from purchasing alcohol at a liquor store because, according to New Hampshire state law, businesses that sell alcohol can accept a driver’s license with photo identification from any of the 50 states and the provinces of Canada.  Norton said that D.C. is “trying our best to become the 51st State, but our unique identification being the District of Columbia, the nation’s capital, should be enough.”  The Congresswoman said she appreciated that New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hasan immediately looked into the matter and the New Hampshire Liquor Commission issued a statement stating D.C. driver’s licenses are now acceptable.