Reps. Burchett, Lesko, lead calls for State Department to process passport applications

June 10, 2020
Press Release
COVID-19 pandemic paused passport operations, creating backlog of 1.6 million applications

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (June 10, 2020) -- Today, U.S. Representatives Tim Burchett (TN-02) and Debbie Lesko (AZ-08) led 33 of their colleagues in urging the United States Department of State to resume processing passport applications.
 
The State Department stopped processing passport applications on March 19 due to the widespread outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States. The applications of 1.6 million Americans have not been processed as a result, leaving many applicants confused and wondering when they will receive their passport.
 
"Some East Tennesseans have spent almost three months waiting to hear back about passport applications," said Rep. Burchett. “My constituents, like so many Americans, rely upon passports for several reasons and it’s frustrating for them to wait this long without any guidance. I’m hoping this letter will lead to much-needed answers."
 
"As our society begins to reopen, our government agencies must also begin to get back to the business of the American people,” said Congresswoman Debbie Lesko. “Many Arizonans and Americans have been waiting months for their passports to be processed, and it is time to get some answers. I look forward to hearing from the State Department about their path forward to address this backlog.”
 
In a letter to Carl Risch, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, the members stressed the various reasons why Americans need quick approval on their passport applications. Additionally, the members requested an update regarding the State Department’s plans to process applications and reduce the current backlog.
 
"While we are in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis, government agencies must ensure that non-COVID-19 work is completed in a timely fashion to better prepare for an economic recovery once conditions improve. The department rightfully issues travel advisories to inform American citizens of conditions oversees, and international travel remains inadvisable for many individuals. However, a backlog of this magnitude is unsustainable and has very real implications for our economic recovery as parts of the country begin to reopen," the members wrote to Assistant Secretary Risch.
 
Additional members signing the letter include Reps. Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Troy Balderson (OH-12), Jim Banks (IN-03), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), Ted Budd (NC-13), Steve Chabot (OH-01), Tom Cole (OK-04), Scott Desjarlais (TN-04), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03), Morgan Griffith (VA-09), Jody Hice (GA-10), Clay Higgins (LA-03), French Hill (AR-02), Steve King (IA-04), Adam Kinzinger (IL-16), Frank Lucas (OK-03), Brian Mast (FL-18), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Ralph Norman (SC-05), Pete Olson (TX-22), Greg Pence (IN-06), Phil Roe (TN-01), John Rose (TN-06), David Rouzer (NC-07), James Sensenbrenner (WI-05), John Shimkus (IL-15), Christopher Smith (NJ-04), Bryan Steil (WI-01), Scott Tipton (CO-03), Ann Wagner (MO-02), Rob Woodall (GA-07) and Roger Williams (TX-25).

Click here to read the full letter.