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Congressman Smith: Bill to Eliminate Passport Delay Clears First Hurdle

The Passport Backlog Elimination Act (HR 7623), a bill to eliminate the ongoing, extensive backlog in passport processing, was approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee allowing it to advance to the full House of Representatives for a vote, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), a senior member of the committee and cosponsor of the bill, said.

“In recent weeks, I have heard from many constituents who—through no fault of their own—are facing significant delays in obtaining a passport,” Smith said. “If it is deemed safe to travel overseas, American citizens should be able to do so without added bureaucratic passport delays.”

Earlier this year, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the US Department of State completely ceased processing applications for new or renewed passports.

“While the agency has begun to accept applications again,” Smith said, “the significant backlog has created unpredictable delays and stifled Americans’ ability to follow through on previously arranged personal and business travel plans.”

The Passport Backlog Elimination Act directs the State Department to develop a plan to fix the backlog and specify a path for routine passport applications to be processed in six to eight weeks, and for expedited passport applications to be processed in two to three weeks. The bill also ensures safety of employees and customers and compliance with federal, state, and local health and social distancing guidelines, as well as the ability for expedited service for applicants requiring a passport for purposes related to their employment.

In June, Smith and other members of congress cosigned a letter to Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Carl Risch, seeking relief. Some changes were made—resuming passport issuance for life-and-death circumstances–but Smith says “with a 1.31 million application backlog, much more must be done.”

“So long as it is not a health danger, our citizens must be able to resume their travel for education, business, attending important family and religious events, or just a much-needed getaway during these very stressful times,” Smith said. “I urge the full House to take up the bill and expeditiously pass HR 7623 to address this critical passport issuance matter.”

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There are 1 Comments to "Congressman Smith: Bill to Eliminate Passport Delay Clears First Hurdle"

  • J S says:

    My daughter needed a passport to get a visa to go to seminary in EY
    We contacted Senator Menendazes office and they were able to get it
    sent out.You can apply for a passport in the post office in Jackson with an appointment and then contact his office.(Chris Smiths office said they couldn’t help)