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Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton). Photo courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Smith, Sires push for fix to passport processing delays

Congressman praises Hanlon for assistance in finding a solution

By David Wildstein, July 22 2021 9:30 pm

Reps. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton) and Albio Sires (D-West New York) have introduced legislation to allow Americans to travel abroad despite massive delays in the processing of passport applications and renewals.

The lawmakers proposed an expedited procedure so that U.S. passports that expired during the coronavirus pandemic – or before March 31, 2022 – be expedited by the U.S. Department of State.

“Temporarily extending the expiration of all valid U.S. passports would give the State Department the necessary time to catch up on processing requests and much-needed relief as it resumes its full capacity operations and adjusts to the growing number of Americans who need passports to travel for medical treatments, attend weddings and funerals, visit relatives overseas, conduct business and go on vacation,” said Smith.

Smith credited Monmouth County Clerk Christine Hanlon with playing a major role in the development of the plan.

Hanlon said that the delays “have reached crisis proportions.”

“Addressing the current passport backlog to ensure that current wait times can be mitigated must be a top priority,” she stated.

The State Department is suggesting applications come in six months ahead of anticipated travel times – and Smith said the backlog is now at 2.17 million applications.

“While some progress is being made, local passport agencies have been inundated with requests, making it difficult to promptly meet the great demand for renewed and new passports for American citizens—who need and deserve these important documents to exercise their right to travel,” Smith said.

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