VIDEO: Ricketts, Lankford Push to Bring Transparency to Passport Backlog Advances with Bipartisan Support
July 13, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Pete Ricketts (R-NE) announced two provisions of the Passport Act he co-authored with Senator James Lankford (R-OK) passed the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations as part of the Department of State Authorization Act. The Passport Act, formally introduced earlier this week, would address the historic passport backlog Americans are facing.
The amendments passed out of Committee today aim to improve transparency and customer service by requiring the State Department to provide detailed status updates for passport applicants and add a customer service chat feature connecting applicants with the National Passport Information Center. After advancing from the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the bill can now head to the Senate floor.
Video of Ricketts and Lankford discussing today’s Committee passage is available here.
Senator Pete Ricketts and Senator James Lankford discuss their efforts to bring transparency to the historic passport backlog Americans are facing
“No American should have to miss a family trip or cancel their honeymoon because federal bureaucrats can’t do their jobs in a timely manner,” Ricketts said. “I’m grateful the Committee supported our effort to bring needed transparency to the Biden administration’s unacceptable passport backlog, but this is only a first step. Senator Lankford and I will continue to use every tool we have to fight the bureaucratic failures that led to this point. In the meantime, my team will keep working tirelessly to help Nebraskans fighting passport delays any way we can.”
“The frustration of the passport crisis across the US has certainly been felt in Oklahoma,” said Lankford. “My team has assisted hundreds of families trying to travel this summer for their honeymoon, vacation, work, or mission trip. Today, I had success helping Americans finally have transparency from the State Department as their application goes through the process. We continue to move forward to fix the issues with the historic passport backlog so we can reduce the months wait time back to weeks.”
BACKGROUND ON THE PASSPORT ACT
The Passport Act would address the current delays by:
- Establishing a 12-week processing time requirement and refusing any remote work requests until the timeline can be met.
- Requiring procedures to avoid processing backlogs in the case of future national emergencies.
- Developing a reserve workforce that can be reassigned to support Passport Services during high demand.
- Improving the online status tool to provide more information to applicants.
- Adding a chat feature to National Passport Information Center (NPIC) call line.
- Initiating an investigation into the quality of customer service, wait times, and technology failures of NPIC.
- Expanding in-person appointments at regional passport offices.
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