Bill would notify passport holder ahead of pending expiration
It’s called the Passport Notification Act and would require the State Department to inform people their passport is expiring six-months ahead of time.
Congressional offices continue to be inundated with calls and messages from constituents trying to get their passports ahead of big trips abroad.
“We had a year ago thirteen cases that we closed out. Right now we have like 380 cases. So we’ve gone from thirteen to 380. That’s just the cases that we’ve closed down, not including the open cases that we currently have. So it’s a huge problem,” Steube said.
This spring, Secretary of State Antony Blinker testified during a congressional hearing that the Department was receiving half-a-million passport applications per week, and was increasing staff to deal with the demand.
Steube says his staff has heard story after story of constituents they’ve tried to help who missed their trips abroad this summer because they didn’t realize their passports were expiring, and didn’t receive the renewal in time.
His legislation would require the State Department to send passport holders a hard or electronic notice when it’s six months out from its pending expiration.
“It’s shocking to me that they’re not required to notify you that your passport is expiring. I think that one simple act alone will solve a lot of these problems, because people will be notified with plenty of time to be able to expedite, and or get it within the six months. It’s gonna get renewed and you won’t have these challenges where people right before they’re getting ready to travel internationally, look at their passport and realize that it’s expired, they have like two weeks to get it renewed,” he said.
The routine passport application processing time is now 10-13 weeks. Before Feb. 6, 2023, it was 6-9 weeks.
Democratic Congressman Maxwell Frost also says passport issues are the top call they receive from constituents as well. He said Steube’s bill would be helpful, but that the Department also needs more resources and staff to clear the backlog.
Florida only has one Passport Agency in Miami for urgent travel services.
“I think it would help and I think that’s a good piece of legislation. It really does need to be coupled with resources though,” Frost said.
A State Department spokesperson says it doesn’t comment on pending legislation. The Department is working to clear the backlog by the end of the year.