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September 28, 2023

Rep. Adam Schiff Introduces Legislation to Streamline Passport Process, Reduce Backlog

Washington, D.C. — Today, Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) introduced the PASSPORT Act to help millions of Americans by implementing new measures to address passport application backlogs and reduce passport processing delays. Specifically, Schiff’s PASSPORT Act would streamline the passport application and renewal process by improving communication regarding upcoming expirations, studying how to further improve efficiency, providing tracking options on documents used to provide proof of citizenship and identity, and improving passport employee recruitment and retention within the State Department.

“Every day, my office hears from constituents facing terrible delays with their passport applications. It’s clear that the State Department, despite their best efforts, is not meeting the increased demand post pandemic. Slow processing timelines have caused significant stress, imposed financial costs, and forced constituents to miss out on important events such as weddings, funerals, and long-awaited vacations,” said Rep. Schiff. “My legislation, the PASSPORT Act, will improve communication with U.S. citizens on passport issues and help the department avoid such backlogs in the future.”

“In the last couple of years, my office has been inundated with casework requests from constituents needing help with their passports. It has become increasingly clear that the State Department is having challenges meeting the post-pandemic demand for passports for international travel, which has created significant problems for travelers across the country. Congressional offices like mine have tried to help individuals, but there needs to be a broader initiative to speed up processing delays and prevent them in the future. I’m pleased to join Congressman Schiff in introducing the PASSPORT Act, which offers a multifaceted approach to addressing and preventing passport delays,” said Rep. Lieu.

In the spring and summer of 2023, a number of factors led to a surge in passport applications and significant delays in processing times. As of September 2023, published processing times for both expedited and routine passport applications remain longer than pre-pandemic processing times and more must be done to ease the backlog of applications and enhance communication with U.S. citizens on these matters. The PASSPORT Act will ensure that U.S. Passport holders receive advance notice when their passport is close to expiring, as well as require the airlines to help travelers better understand if they will meet passport validity requirements for their upcoming international flights.

The PASSPORT Act will:

  • Improve communication with U.S. passport holders by notifying them one year in advance of expiration of their passport, and ensuring up-front information about passport requirements is provided to customers at the time of booking international travel;

  • Improve transparency and accountability for sensitive documents provided during the passport application processing by requiring the State Department to develop a plan for improved tracking options and public information about recourse in the case of lost documents;

  • Identify opportunities to further increase passport processing efficiencies by requesting the Comptroller General conduct an updated comprehensive passport operations study; and

  • Ensure State Department passport operations staffing and recruitment and retention practices are aligned to continue to reduce processing backlogs as quickly as possible and avoid future backlogs. 

You can find the full bill text here.