Passport Delays Persist Nationwide

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The growing backlog of passport applications has triggered a surge in appeals to Senate offices and prompted new efforts to streamline the process for Americans seeking essential travel documents.

The wait times for new or renewed passports have seen multiple spikes this year, with applicants currently facing 10 to 13 weeks of processing time unless they opt for an expedited service, which takes 7 to 9 weeks.

A convergence of factors, including a slowdown in passport renewal requests during the pandemic followed by a rush in international travel, contributed to a serious backlog at the State Department. As a result, Senate offices nationwide have been inundated with pleas for assistance from constituents grappling with the situation. Some offices reported a fivefold increase in passport-related cases compared to the previous year.

Senators James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) have introduced legislation to address the ongoing delays. Their proposal includes setting a 12-week processing time requirement for State Department workers and implementing a tracking system for applicants to monitor their applications’ progress. These measures are part of a package to be integrated into the annual National Defense Authorization Act. Despite the proposed solution, Senate offices remain overwhelmed by the flood of requests for help from individuals in their respective states and districts.

Senator Lankford expressed his concern about the situation, acknowledging the drastic increase in passport cases his office has been handling since the backlog emerged. He cited examples of people anxiously awaiting passports requested as early as January or February but still not receiving them in July.

Other senators’ offices have experienced similar challenges, with significant spikes in passport cases. For instance, Senator Bob Casey’s (D-Pa.) office opened around 1,400 passport cases this year, compared to only 300 cases at the same time last year. Similarly, Senator Robert Menendez’s (D-N.J.) office went from handling about 12 passport cases in January to receiving approximately 12 cases per day.

Senator Mark Warner’s (D-Va.) office has seen a staggering rise in passport cases, opening nearly 1,600 cases since the beginning of the year and projecting to handle close to 3,200 cases. By contrast, the total for all of 2022 was 701 cases, with the office managing less than 1,000 cases between 2009 and 2020.

The State Department anticipates processing 25 million passport applications this year, up from 22 million last year. Prior to the pandemic, processing times ranged from 4 to 6 weeks, significantly shorter than the current delays.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) expressed understanding for the increase in passport applications due to the pandemic’s travel restrictions, but also acknowledged the disruptions caused by the backlog. He mentioned that the airlines and cruise industry have been particularly affected by the situation.

Some lawmakers believe that part of the problem lies in Americans’ lack of awareness that many countries require passports to be valid for at least six months for entry. Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) hopes to collaborate with airlines to raise awareness about passport expiration issues.

Meanwhile, despite the challenges, some senators are also dealing with amusing and peculiar requests for passport assistance. For example, Senator John Thune’s (R-S.D.) staff helped the Sioux Falls Police Chief, Jon Thum, obtain a new passport after his dog chewed it twice.



  1. It’s summer now, plenty of adults on vacation. Train ’em in the various skills needed in producing the passports, have them work during hours that the regular workers don’t, and over the next two months, a significant dent can be made. Option to keep it up for longer, till things get caught up.

  2. If it were a for-profit business, they would have hired additional staff. Maybe they should outsource it to a private company and learn a thing or two about customer service.

    • Any extra tax money our beloved government gets their slimy hands on, goes to Zelenskyy and his Ukrainian buddies.


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