The deadline for states to comply with REAL ID, the controversial program that requires states to issue new drivers’ licenses with upgraded security requirements, has been extended to Jan. 15, 2013.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in Monday’s Federal Register, said the reasons for the extension include diminished state budgets and uncertainty regarding the proposed PASS ID Act of 2009, which would have modified various requirements of REAL ID, and is unlikely to be enacted.

The act was originally slated to go into effect on May 11, 2008, and was extended previously to May 11, 2011.

Although the extension gives states another two years to comply with the act, opinions remain sharply divided on it.

“I have made no secret of my disagreement with this policy, which was rushed through Congress with little debate or consideration,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in a press release. “This law has saddled the states with enormous costs and burdened citizens with the prospect of what effectively would be a national identification card.”

On his website, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., categorized the extension as a “setback.” His comments were echoed by a number of fellow Republicans, including Congressman and House Committee on Homeland Security Chair Peter King, R-N.Y.

“Securing drivers’ licenses is a key 9/11 Commission recommendation,” King said in a statement. “It is unacceptable that the Obama administration has done everything possible to delay and scale back the implementation of REAL ID.”

The National Governors Association applauded the decision to extend the compliance deadline, but maintained its stance against REAL ID as written.

“Governors have long said that REAL ID, in its current form, is unworkable,” said the National Governors Association in a statement. “That has not changed.”

Brian Heaton  |  Senior Writer

Brian Heaton is a senior writer for Government Technology. He primarily covers technology legislation and IT policy issues. Brian started his journalism career in 1998, covering sports and fitness for two trade publications based in Long Island, N.Y. He's also a member of the Professional Bowlers Association, and competes in regional tournaments throughout Northern California and Nevada.