U.S. Representative Tim Burchett (R-TN-02) joined a group of bipartisan lawmakers to introduce legislation to help eliminate the current processing backlog of U.S. passport applications.

As economies around the world slowly begin to reopen, the State Department has witnessed a dramatic surge in passport applications and renewals, which has led to a jam of close to 2.2 million applications and has greatly extended the time to receive the document required for international travel.

“Caseworkers in my district office are swamped with passport requests and are not receiving timely updates from passport agencies. This is unacceptable,” Rep. Burchett said. “East Tennesseans deserve better than this inadequate passport service from the Bureau of Consular Affairs. Congress has no choice but to step in and force the State Department to tell the American people how it plans to fix this mess.”

The normal wait time to be approved and receive the document is 12-18 weeks. However, the delays within the Department of State and its contractors had led to individuals waiting as long as 24 weeks.

If enacted, the Passport Backlog Elimination Act would require the secretary of state to submit a plan to Congress to eliminate the passport backlog within 30 days of the enactment of the legislation. Further, the plan must reduce processing times to 6-8 weeks for standard applications and 2-3 weeks for expedited applications.

“Too many of our constituents are left in limbo, not sure if they will receive their passport in time. Some don’t even know the status of their application, and others have been forced to forego travel altogether. While I appreciate the efforts of State Department employees as they work to reduce this backlog, the need for substantial improvement remains. This legislation is a significant step in reducing the backlog and delivering this crucial service to our constituents,” added Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11).

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Cooper Moran is a reporter for the Star News Network. Follow Cooper on Twitter. Email tips to cooperreports@gmail.com.