Forbes Calls on State Department to Explain Passport Processing Delay
Requests House Committee Address Issue in Hearing
Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) announced today that he has sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice requesting that the Department of State address and explain the factors that led to a serious backlog in passport processing for U.S. citizens. The request comes on the heels of the State Department’s announcement that they are easing requirements for entry for U.S. citizens traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda because of the backlog. Congressman Forbes sent a similar letter to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs requesting that they address the issue in a congressional hearing.
“As more stringent passport policies have gone into effect, serious concerns have arisen about the ability of the Department of State to meet the needs of U.S. citizens applying for new passports,” the letter states. “In the last several months, my office has been inundated with requests for assistance from constituents who are unable to receive a response from the Department of State regarding the status of their passport application. The majority of these constituents have followed the procedures as outlined by the Department of State and have allowed months for the processing of their application. Now, some of them within days of their scheduled departure for business, personal, or family travel find themselves still without the necessary passport and facing the forfeiture of expensive travel that will not allow for alterations or refunds.”
The letter further requests that the Department explain what actions they have taken to anticipate and prepare for the increased demand in passport processing since December of 2004 when the more stringent passport policies were signed into law, and what actions they will be taking in the future to meet upcoming passport application demands.
Forbes has requested the Committee on Foreign Affairs to schedule a hearing to evaluate the State Department’s implementation plan for increased passport processing, to assess the current backlog of passport applications both in numbers and in processing time, and to ascertain what additional resources, systems and staff are required to address current and future passport processing delays.
The full letter sent to the State Department is available at: http://forbes.house.gov/uploadedfiles/lettertorice.pdf. The letter to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs is located at: http://forbes.house.gov/uploadedfiles/lettertoforeignaffairs.pdf.
Congressman Forbes has set up a website to offer constituents the latest information and tips on passport processing. The website is available at: http://forbes.house.gov/ConstituentServices/casework/passportalert.htm.