WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), and Congressman Tim Burchett (R-TN) on July 22 reintroduced the Passport Backlog Elimination Act, bipartisan legislation to eliminate the passport processing backlog created by the coronavirus pandemic. The members previously introduced the legislation during the 116th Congress.
Recent reports indicate that the current passport backlog is at least 1.5 million applications, and could be as high as 2.2 million applications. According to the State Department website, routine passport service can take up to 18 weeks and expedited service can take up to 12 weeks.
“While the COVID-19 crisis has affected the workflow for countless employees across the country, the passport backlog is particularly troubling. I have heard from hundreds of my constituents who are currently stuck without a valid passport,” said Rep. Maloney. “The State Department needs to be transparent about its plans to process these outstanding passport applications and demonstrate that they are doing everything possible to eliminate this backlog.”
“Too many of our constituents are left in limbo, not sure if they will receive their passport in time,” said Rep. Connolly. “Some don’t even know the status of their application, and others have been forced to forego travel altogether. While I appreciate the efforts of State Department employees as they work to reduce this backlog, the need for substantial improvement remains. This legislation is a significant step in reducing the backlog and delivering this crucial service to our constituents.”
“I’ve heard from hundreds of Illinoisans about the ongoing passport backlog at the Department of State, and it needs to be addressed immediately,” said Rep. Kinzinger. “The American people deserve answers on the status of their applications, and our legislation aims to do that and more. I’m proud to introduce this measure with my colleagues today as we work to get transparency for our constituents and ensure access to this important service.”
“Caseworkers in my district office are swamped with passport requests and are not receiving timely updates from passport agencies. This is unacceptable,” Rep. Burchett said. “East Tennesseans deserve better than this inadequate passport service from the Bureau of Consular Affairs. Congress has no choice but to step in and force the State Department to tell the American people how it plans to fix this mess.”
The Passport Backlog Elimination Act:
• Requires the Secretary of State to submit a plan to eliminate the passport backlog within 30 days after enactment of the legislation.
• The plan must be implemented within 30 days of submission to Congress, and must include a timeline that ensures processing time is 6-8 weeks for standard applications and 2-3 weeks for expedited applications.
Within 6 months of bill enactment, the State Department Inspector General must submit an audit on the effectiveness of the plan to eliminate the backlog.