Reps. Sharice Davids, Emanuel Cleaver looking for answers to passport delays

Dramatic delays in passport applications leading to questions from lawmakers
U.S. passports are displayed on top of a flag in this photo from June 13, 2020.
U.S. passports are displayed on top of a flag in this photo from June 13, 2020.(Pixabay)
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 9:51 AM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Representatives Sharice Davids (KS-03) and Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05) pushed for answers Thursday from the U.S. Department of State Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Rita Bitter. In prior months, both offices have received an increase in messages from constituents experiencing dramatic delays in requesting passports.

“Over the past few months, our offices on both sides of the state line have been inundated with requests from constituents experiencing delays in new or renewed passport applications. Today, we write to request an explanation of the root cause of these delays and an updated timeline for when folks in our districts should expect processing rates to return to pre-pandemic levels,” Davids and Cleaver wrote in a joint statement.

The current application process for requests has increased by 40 percent compared to this time last year, and it can take up to four months for the requests to be processed. The DOS previously launched an online passport renewal pilot program to speed up this process, but on March 8 2023, the organization shut it down due to systematic roadblocks. The pair also supported the National Defense Authorization Act of 2023 which required a study of the areas throughout the country with a high demand for passports, but where in-person offices are many miles away.

“We understand that high demand has put enormous pressure on the agency’s ability to process applications more efficiently. But with demand remaining high, actions must be taken to improve wait times and solve processing issues,” Davids and Cleaver added.