In the wake of year-long delays, a new bill aims to speed up the time it takes to get your passport.

The Passport Backlog Reduction Act gives the State Department the ability to hire retired former staffers, without them losing their retirement benefits. US Representative Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) says those retirees are already trained and authorized to process passport applications, and could help to ease the passport backlog.

"And anyone who's had to deal with getting their passport in recent months understand the tremendous backlog that's developed. Very frustrating, some as long as a 12- to 14-month wait."

Kind says his office has been getting about 20-30 calls a day dealing with passport delays. In addition to rehiring retired workers, the suspension of the new passport rules will help to eliminate the backlog.

"Getting the administration to suspend the new passport rules for travel in the western hemisphere, so that birth certificates and an application for a passport would be sufficient for Americans to show rather than waiting for the actual passport to be in their hand."

Kind says the suspension is good for up to 16 months, giving them a little time to work on the backlog problem. Kind warns, though, you can still expect an eight to ten week delay, so don't dawdle and apply early. If you do run into problems, Kind says you shouldn't hesitate to call the congressman in your district for assistance. This bill has to go back to the Senate for final approval before going to the president's desk.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report (1:35 MP3)

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