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House Committee approves bill seeking to cut passport delays

By Jake Beardslee · December 15, 2023

In brief…

  • House committee unanimously passes bill to reduce passport processing delays
  • Would require State Dept. to cut renewal times to under 30 days
  • Creates digital case tracking system for Congress, online renewals
  • Bill's author sees no Senate opposition, could pass in early 2024
A bill passed unanimously out of a House committee requiring the State Department to digitize parts of the passport renewal process in order to cut delays, with the aim of final passage in early 2024.  Tony Webster/Wikimedia

Legislation aimed at reducing passport processing delays has passed unanimously through a key House committee. The “Passport System Reform and Backlog Prevention Act” looks to cut down processing times to under 30 days.

“It’s long overdue, but we took the time to get it right that we could get a unanimous vote,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the bill’s author, to Fox News Digital.

During the pandemic, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “the bottom basically dropped out of the system” for handling passports, as travel demand plummeted. The State Department is still working to catch up with the surge in applications.

The bill sets various targets related to cybersecurity, affordability, customer service, and geographic accessibility. Within two years, it requires a digital system for congressional staff to track constituents’ passport cases. Within four years, online passport renewal applications would be mandatory.

Issa said the legislation could pass on its own or be attached to a larger bill. “We know of no opposition per se in the Senate,” he said.