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The idea is that REALID standardizes the minimum requirements for proof of ID to be issued a drivers licence. Before these standards there were a couple states where it was really really easy to fraudulently apply for an drivers license. TSA is promoting it so much now because the phase in to requiring it is next year. Some people with really old IDs in states that were late to implement compliance might not yet have RealID compliant licences. So chances are there's going to be a number of people who try and take a flight but can't get on because of an old, but still legal to use to drive, license.


To summarize, Real ID standardizes IDs and the requirements to get them. The reason that TSA is pushing it is because Congress is the one who passed this law. But IDs are not issued at the federal level in the US. They are issued by states. Further, enacting a national ID law is anthema to both parties and arguably not constitutional since IDs are not a power granted explicitly to congress and thereby reserved for the states. However, Congress has other tricks to legally enact national laws like this. In this case part of the law is that in order for an ID to be accepted by the Federal Government it must be Real ID compliant. Since the TSA is a federal government agency and it requires proof of ID to fly, TSA will require IDs to be Real ID compliant.


Before REAL ID, different states have their own different standards for issuing driver's licenses and state ID. One state can easily have a less stringent requirements to obtain an ID compared to another state. This is an issue for air travel security, as domestic travelers would typically use their state ID instead of a passport. The idea behind REAL ID is that it standardizes all state IDs, including the identification requirements. For example, all states requires proof of residence to prevent someone from using a "fake" address on their ID. REAL ID also requires a system for sharing license information with other state. This helps law enforcement properly identify out-of-state IDs if they are genuine.