GOP senator calls on State Department to resume passport application processing

GOP senator calls on State Department to resume passport application processing
© Anna Moneymaker

Republican Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordTulsa to resume search for race massacre mass graves next week GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday Trump calls for Congress to take action against 'lowlifes' who burn American flag MORE (Okla.) said Thursday that the State Department should continue processing passports remotely after learning its facing a huge backlog in applications.

After the coronavirus pandemic led to widespread travel advisories, the Department paused the application process for 1.6 million Americans and stopped taking new applications on March 19.

“Today I learned that the @StateDept hasn't processed a single passport application since March 19—creating a 1.6 million backlog of applications. This is ridiculous and cannot continue,” Lankford tweeted.

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Lankford called the move from the State Department a “major fumble” that will “hinder our economic recovery.” He said that if other agencies have been able to continue operating remotely, they should be able to, as well. 

“There's no reason @StateDept couldn't have done the same thing. This is a major fumble and will hinder our economic recovery. I'll be on the phone with the @StateDept and my colleagues over the next few days to make sure they are doing the work on behalf of the American people,” he tweeted. 

On the State Department’s website, the agency claims people who submitted applications before operations were limited on March 19 will experience “significant delays of several months.”

Only people who can prove they are facing a “life-or-death emergency” can apply for a passport under the current travel advisories in place by the department and public health officials. Applicants must show proof of “serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family” to be considered.