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Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger Flags Skyrocketing Claims Of Passport Delays

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Millions of Americans trying to travel abroad are now desperate to get a passport.

"I've been having so many issues, I waited, I tried the 877 number, it doesn't work, people were selling appointments online it was crazy," said Stacey Kearney.

Stacey and Devin Kearney had been trying for weeks to get one for their son Kamren before their long-awaited trip to the Bahamas.

But the family from Owings Mills found that just about everything they tried to do to get his passport quickly didn't work because of a massive two million application backlog.

"They call the State Department and the passport division and they're on hold for three hours," said U.S. Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, who represents Maryland's 2nd congressional district.

Now, people are waiting 12 to 18 weeks from the time they send in their application to get a passport.

The problem is staffing shortages at passport agencies, along with a surge in international travel as pandemic restrictions have eased.

"We've had over 180 of my constituents calling for passport issues. That's more than the entire four years previous," Ruppersberger said.

Ruppersberger and his staff have been able to get passports for most of his Maryland constituents who called him for help, including Kamren, who got his passport just days before their trip.

"I didn't even know what to say," Kamren said.

Ruppersberger says he's asked the State Department to hire more people to deal with the volume. His office is recommending that you apply for a passport or renew it at least six months before your trip. Even applicants who pay for expedited service can expect to wait up to 12 weeks.

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