Making travel plans has its fair share of headaches involved, but now there’s an even bigger problem that so many Americans are frustrated about: delays in passports. As the United States and countries across the globe are reopening, and vaccination rates continue to climb, more Americans are getting the itch to travel again – but the State Department has proven that it’s currently ill-equipped to handle the influx of passport applications from Americans.
The numbers speak for themselves. Pre-pandemic, the average time to have a passport application approved and delivered was six to eight weeks. For expedited passports, the time was between two to three weeks. Right now, the State Department’s turnaround time is an estimated 18 weeks for a standard application and 12 weeks for an expedited application.
According to a Wall Street Journal article that was published on Wednesday, Rachel Arndt, the State Department’s assistant secretary for passport services estimated that there’s a current backlog of between 1.5 million and two million passport applications – a frustrating delay for millions of Americans who are looking to resume international travel. Imagine the countless people who had to cancel trips that were planned and the headaches they had as they sought answers about why this process was taking so long. Can you guess why this problem has only been exacerbated over the past few months? It’s because the State Department’s 26 passport agencies across the country are not fully staffed.
For those who want to apply in-person, these offices have now slashed availability for appointments – in some cases reserving them solely for “life and death emergencies”. With passports being an indispensable tool for so many, there is no excuse for the State Department to let these delays continue to pile up. In fact, I’ve signed onto Congressman Scott Fitzgerald’s (R-WI) letter to the State Department demanding answers on what can be done to correct this issue. The agency must fully re-staff all its locations across the country so that the American people can be served in a manner that was consistent before the pandemic took hold. Many constituents in the Fifth District have contacted my district offices about delays in their passports, and I’ll continue to provide updates so that you are kept up to speed.
A New Blog To Read
Republicans on the Education and Labor Committee have created a new blog to share our perspectives on policy and issue areas that fall directly into our committee’s jurisdiction. In fact, I’ve published my first piece on the blog about how existing hierarchy’s in higher education have fueled negative perceptions of people who pursue less than a baccalaureate degree. Here’s a short excerpt:
“When I was pursuing my degree, a professor admonished a fellow student for using the phrase “vocational training.” Training, he said, was for animals. Humans receive an education. The way we speak reflects what we value. We must enthusiastically bring skills-based programs into the fold of “higher education” and push back against any institution that refutes that truth.”
To read my blog post, click here.
New Scam Alert
Vaccine lotteries have been popping up in different states across the country, and they have become hotbeds for scammers. In North Carolina, if you’ve received a vaccination, the state has deemed you eligible for participating in its vaccine lottery. As expected, scammers are pouncing on this opportunity to cash in and steal your money. Below are a few tips on how to avoid this new wave of scams that are sweeping the state:
- Do not provide your personal information over the phone to anyone claiming to be a government official who has ties to the vaccine lottery.
- If you are told that you must pay money or provide personal information to win a prize from the state, that is an immediate red flag you need to look for.
- A request of buying gift cards and sending them to someone for the purpose of claiming a prize through this state-run lottery is also a red flag to pay attention to.
Quote of The Week
“The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.”
Have a blessed weekend.