U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today voted for S. 966, the Passport Backlog Reduction Act of 2007.  The bill addresses the serious backlog of passport and related travel document applications caused by the 2004 intelligence overhaul law which required more secure documents for travel between the U.S., Bermuda, Canada and Mexico.  The measure was passed by voice vote.

At the beginning of this year, the Department of Homeland Security began requiring U.S. travelers reentering into the U.S. by air to present secure identification, such as a passport.  This change resulted in skyrocketing numbers of qualifying document applications.  The legislation passed by the House of Representatives today allows Foreign Service retirees to retain retirement benefits when they return to temporary work for the purpose of easing the document application backlog.  

“The push to require high-security documents for international travel sooner than was feasible for a smooth implementation has seriously snarled our citizens’ ability to travel abroad.  The measure we passed this evening aims to rectify a problem affecting the summer travel of countless Americans by temporarily bringing already trained workers back into the system,” Smith said.

The measure passed under a suspension of the rules, a process which allows for the expedited consideration of legislation which must then be approved by a vote of two-thirds of the House.  The Senate has already approved their version of this bill, which must be signed by the President before it becomes law.