U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) today joined Senators Rick Scott (R-FL), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), John Barasso, M.D. (R-WY), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Katie Britt (R-AL), Ted Budd (R-NC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), JD Vance (R-OH), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Deb Fischer (R-NE) in sending a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging him to take immediate action to resolve the massive, unacceptable backlog of passport applications. In the letter, the senators note countless reports from Americans in their states regarding issues and concerns with delayed wait times, lack of available in-person appointments, and an inability to communicate with passport agencies.
“Since January 2023, our offices have observed a massive increase in passport related inquiries from our constituents,” the senators wrote. “We understand that the Department of State is experiencing an unprecedented number of passport applications and renewals, but the strategies put in place to address this unprecedented demand appear to need additional attention.”
The full text of the letter can be found here and below:
Dear Secretary Blinken:
As summer begins and families across the nation are finalizing their travel plans, we have heard countless reports from constituents in our states about the massive backlogs in processing passport applications. While we appreciate the hard work of Passport Agency employees across the nation, this backlog and the unresponsiveness to many passport inquiries is unacceptable.
Since January 2023, our offices have observed a massive increase in passport related inquiries from our constituents. We understand that the Department of State is experiencing an unprecedented number of passport applications and renewals, but the strategies put in place to address this unprecedented demand appear to need additional attention.
These backlogs have resulted in many American families being forced to cancel their travel plans because of increased wait times, a lack of available in-person appointments and an inability to communicate with passport agencies. Furthermore, the delay many Americans are experiencing in receiving their passport could potentially be detrimental to their livelihood.
The Department of State must address these issues promptly to remedy the situation. As our offices continue to work each and every day to assist constituents with their passport needs, we are requesting answers to the following questions:
What measures are being taken to decrease processing and wait times?
How does the Department plan to resolve the communications issues?
How does the Department plan to permanently resolve these issues to avoid backlog in the future?
Families across the nation are dependent on a quick and efficient solution to the many issues and delays the Passport Agencies are experiencing. We look forward to hearing your solutions to this ongoing issue.
Senator Romney, along with the entire Utah Congressional Delegation, earlier this year sent a letter to Secretary Blinken raising concerns over extreme delays in the processing of passports. The six Utah congressional offices are struggling to handle all incoming emergency requests due to the sheer volume of requests being received—a direct result of passport processing grinding to a near halt. Additionally, the Delegation renewed its request for the State Department to open a passport agency in Salt Lake City to give Mountain West residents an in-person option for passport services. This request is consistent with Romney legislation passed in the FY23 National Defense Authorization Actrequiring the Secretary of State to review the geographic diversity of passport agencies to identify areas of the country with both high demand and no in-person access.