WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Rep. Max Miller (OH-07) joined other members of Congress in pressing the Department of State – yet again – for answers and accountability related to the overwhelming backlog in processing passports that U.S. citizens need for travel.
In May, Rep. Miller and 193 other members sent a letter to the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs posing specific questions about the processing backlog and procedures. To date, the Department of State has not provided information in response to the May 17th letter.
In the earlier letter, the members wrote, in part:
“These processing delays and subsequent influx of requests to Congressional offices cause added stress for our constituents around long-planned travel and sometimes require them to pay additional money for expedited processing and/or overnight shipping fees they otherwise would not have pursued. Meanwhile, Congressional offices are having to dedicate additional time and resources that could be devoted to other constituent service demands.
“We understand that passport processing challenges have coincided with the beta-test rollout of the Online Passport Renewal (OPR) system. We applaud the State Department’s efforts to streamline and improve response timing for our constituents seeking to renew their passports online, but questions remain regarding how the OPR system has been implemented, how this system was communicated to our constituents, and the level of oversight it has received from the State Department.
“Finally, we ask that the State Department improve its internal communications among passport agencies, as well as external communications to Congressional offices, and most importantly, to our constituents, about efficiently navigating passport processing challenges. Moreover, our constituents deserve clearer communication about current estimated turnaround times, both at the application stage and while their application is in process, if their estimated receipt time changes. In addition, our Congressional offices and our constituents need to receive the same information and guidance about what services are and are not available. Congressional offices are repeatedly experiencing instances where our constituents report that State’s Passport Offices gave constituents expectations of our Congressional Offices’ ability to assist them that conflicted with the guidance that State has provided to our Offices, such as the timelines we must follow in order to submit appointment requests.”
Click here for the text of the letter.
Today, Congressman Miller said, “The State Department’s passport processing backlog is causing stress for my constituents and disrupting their travel plans, and the passport backlog needs to be cleared quickly. One thing everyone can do is plan ahead and verify the status of their passports several weeks before any travel so they can avoid these horrible processing delays.”
Congressman Miller will continue to press the Department of State to provide the fastest possible service to constituents who need new passports or renewals.