Matheson Says Bill Passage May Help Clear Passport Backlog
Congressman Jim Matheson said legislation scheduled to pass the House today offers hope for clearing the huge logjam of unprocessed passport applications. New federal air travel requirements that took effect in January 2007 caused passport applications to soar to 1 million a month nationwide.
Matheson wrote to the State Department in June, demanding answers about the growing delay experienced by Utahns seeking their travel documents. Matheson said to date his office has fielded more than 450 constituent calls, including 160 in the month of June alone, many from Utahns headed for long-planned family vacations, honeymoons, and reunions.
"This bill allows the State Department to temporarily rehire some recent retirees and put them to work tackling the passport backlog. These are folks who-unlike new hires-are already trained. They'll be able to keep their retirement benefits, even as they go back to work for a time," said Matheson.
Matheson said this action, combined with an earlier decision by the White House to waive the travel restrictions over the summer, may finally provide relief for the many anxious travelers who have waited months for their passports to arrive.
The Senate passed the bill- The Department of State Crisis Response Act of 2007 (S 966)--by voice vote June 29th.