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Blumenthal Calls on State Department to Clear Passport Backlog by Returning Services to Pre-Pandemic Levels

“Applicants are experiencing significant, unacceptable disruptions as they attempt to travel overseas.”

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the U.S. Department of State to reduce the passport processing backlog by improving technology and increasing staff and resources. The Department has been inundated with upwards of 370,000 new applications each week. Blumenthal’s office has received hundreds of requests from constituents seeking help while the process takes three to four times longer than usual. Many routine applications now take up to 18 weeks, with expedited cases taking up to 12 weeks.

“I request you immediately continue onboarding additional staff at passport agencies and processing centers consistent with the Diplomacy Strong framework. We must return passport services to pre-pandemic levels as quickly as possible,” Blumenthal wrote. “As part of that effort, the Department should expand capacity and access to COVID vaccines and undertake any necessary safety protocols to protect workers.”

Blumenthal urged the Department to increase the number of support contractors, “to process, print, and deliver passports faster,” and to “expand to the maximum extent practical access to overtime for your administrative and management staff to increase production.” Such reforms have the potential to result in nearly 100,000 more applications being processed per month.  

Blumenthal also called for cost-effective, new technology to enhance security and efficiency of current State Department procedures, and to, “update and streamline the process to avoid a repeat of this situation.”

The full text of today’s letter is available here.