Passport Legislation Would Reimburse Affected Americans (Rep. Jim Cooper)

I'm sure my colleagues have been hearing the same stories I have-families who save thousands of dollars to travel abroad only to see it disappear when the State Department takes 16 weeks to get them their passports. High school students who have spent Saturdays washing cars so they can go on a church mission trip, suddenly stranded because of bureaucratic incompetence. Our citizens deserve better than that.

My bill, H.R. 2745, would simply reimburse Americans for the money they lost on provable travel expenses due to the Passport Agency's failure to process passports on time. It would also require that, before implementing WHTI land and sea rules, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security certify to Congress that the Passport Agency will be able to meet increased demand with minimal disruption to travelers.

People bet thousands of their hard-earned dollars that the government's word could be taken at face value, and instead they got taken for a ride. Once again Congress is left to clean up a Bush administration mess. But those of us who believe and serve in government have an obligation to preserve the public trust. Paying people back when we rip them off would be a good start.