In a bold move to eliminate the massive backlog of passport applications in the United States, Republican lawmakers have proposed a sweeping reform bill that could revolutionize the process. Submitted by Republican Senators Jim Inhofe, Roy Blunt, Mike Crapo, Pat Roberts, and David Perdue, the “Transformative Approaches to Tokens of Travel Act of 2021” is intended to address the current state of the U.S. passport issuance system, and give travelers the ability to quickly obtain passports before the end of the year.
Under the proposed legislation, passport applications would be expedited and processed more efficiently by allowing the State Department to outsource some aspects of the process, including training, personnel, and technological upgrades. The bill would also revamp the passport security process to ensure that applicants are properly vetted before their passport is issued. The State Department would be required to use current and emerging technologies to verify applicants’ identity, integrate biometric data such as fingerprints and iris scans into the process, and share pertinent information with other federal and state law enforcement agencies to track terrorist activity.
In addition, the bill would provide $175 million for additional State Department personnel, technology upgrades, and other related expenses. The legislation also would increase the penalties for fraudulent passport applications, make it a federal offense to present false documentation when applying for a passport, and mandate more expansive background checks for those applying to renew a passport.
If passed, the “Transformative Approaches to Tokens of Travel Act of 2021” could be a game-changer for individuals dealing with the backlog of passport applications, and a model for other nations around the world. If Republicans succeed in passing this bill through Congress, Americans all over the country can look forward to a quicker, simpler passport application process.