Romney continues efforts to bring a passport agency to Salt Lake City
WASHINGTON—The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to advance provisions secured by U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) to improve passport services during a business meeting to consider the Department of State Authorization Act of 2023—continuing his longstanding efforts to bring a passport agency to Salt Lake City and improve Utahns’ access to consular services.
“Utah is quickly becoming a center for global commerce and tourism. In addition to serving as home to thousands of Latter-day Saints who annually embark on worldwide religious missions, our state is also experiencing rapid population growth.” said Senator Romney. “Utahns are frustrated with their lack of access to passport services—required to travel long distances out of state to obtain urgent, in-person consular services at a passport agency. I’m proud these measures advanced out of the Foreign Relations Committee with bipartisan support—they’re an important step to bringing a passport agency to Salt Lake City.”
Specifically, Romney’s provisions in the Department of State Authorization Act of 2023 would:
- Devote a portion of passport fees toward a feasibility study on how the State Department could provide urgent, in-person passport services to significant populations with the longest travel times to existing passport agencies, including the possibility of building new passport agencies.
- Require quarterly reporting on the demand for urgent passport services, broken down by major metropolitan area, and the steps taken by the State Department to reduce and meet the demand for urgent passport services, particularly in areas that are more than a five-hour drive from the nearest passport agency.
- Require the State Department to produce a strategy to ensure reasonable access to passport services for all Americans, including how to reduce passport processing times to an acceptable average for renewals and expedited service and provide U.S. residents living in a significant population center more than a five-hour drive from a passport agency with urgent, in-person passport services, including the possibility of building new passport agencies.
- Require a prominent, clear advisory in passports to note that many countries deny entry to travelers during the last six months of their passport validity period and urging all travelers to renew their passport one year prior to its expiration.
Romney has made improving access to passport services and bringing a passport agency to Salt Lake City two of his top priorities to helping improve the lives of Utahns. In April 2021, Romney sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken alerting him to the hardships Utahns were facing in accessing passport services and asking him to take appropriate steps to ensure that passport services are accessible to those Americans living in the Mountain West.
In September 2022, Romney secured a measure in the Department of State Authorization Act of 2022 requiring the State Department to review and report on the geographical diversity of passport agencies, specifically identifying areas of the country both high demand and no-in person access. This measure became law in December as part of the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023.
In April, Romney led the Utah Congressional Delegation in sending a letter to Secretary Blinken raising concerns over extreme delays in the processing of passports and renewing its request for the State Department to open a passport agency in Salt Lake City to give Mountain West residents an in-person option for passport services.