Passport Backlog Spurs Letter From Lawmakers

Passport Backlog
Passport Documents. | Image by Evgenia Parajanian/Shutterstock

Significant delays in U.S. passport services have prompted some federal lawmakers from North Texas to join others in taking up the issue ahead of an anticipated surge in international travel over the summer.

Reps. Jasmine Crockett (D-TX) and Keith Self (R-TX) signed on to a May letter alongside roughly 200 other congressional members directed to the Bureau of Consular Affairs. The letter inquired about delays in processing passport applications and renewals and the “dramatic” increase in service requests.

Secretary of State had previously appeared before the House Appropriations Committee in March to testify about the increase. He explained that his department was receiving roughly 500,000 passport applications per week, an increase of between 30% and 40% compared to 2022, CNN reported.

The Utah Congressional Delegation issued its own letter to Blinken in April about the serious backlog of service requests created by the swell of applications. Members noted that it was an “acute problem” that the State Department needed to take steps to remedy by establishing a passport office in Salt Lake City.

“Perhaps most frustrating, any in-person services for Utahns requires them to travel long distances out of state. We continue to urge the State Department to improve access to in-person passport services for Utahns and the Western Mountain region,” said the delegation.

The letter signed by Crockett and Self recognized officials’ efforts in attempting to optimize response times and that the increase in requests had coincided with a beta test for an online passport renewal system.

However, the signatories noted possible issues with department oversight, implementation, and transparency, and said that congressional offices are getting bogged down dealing with constituent requests involving passport services.

“These processing delays and subsequent influx of requests to Congressional offices cause added stress for our constituents around long-planned travel and sometimes require them to pay additional money for expedited processing and/or overnight shipping fees they otherwise would not have pursued,” wrote congressional members.

Crockett sent an email to her constituents regarding the goals of this letter.

“Our asks are simple: that the State Department improve its internal communications among passport agencies, external communications to Congressional offices, and most importantly, to our constituents, about navigating passport processing challenges,” wrote Crockett, according to Axios.

The U.S. Department of State advises that the routine time for processing takes 10-13 weeks but can be expedited for a $60 fee, reducing the wait time by about one month.

Support our non-profit journalism

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *