A House-Senate appropriations bill passed last night by the U.S. House of Representatives delays the next round of Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) passport requirements until June 2009. The Bush administration had planned to move forward with new passport requirements next summer.
“With the 2010 Olympics just around the corner, it is critical that Northern border crossings are safe, fast and convenient,” said U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02), co-chair of the 2010 Olympics Task Force. “This summer’s passport debacle does not inspire confidence that the Departments of Homeland Security and State are moving forward in the right way. This legislation gives them more time to get the job done right.”
Larsen has met with the Departments of Homeland Security and State to voice his concerns over the economic losses a poorly-implemented program could cause for communities on the Northern border.
In addition to delaying new passport requirements, the legislation passed by the House withholds $75 million from WHTI implementation until results are in from pilot programs in Washington state and elsewhere to test the viability of a secure driver’s license as a passport alternative. The Senate passed similar legislation this spring, and is expected to vote on the House-passed legislation as early as today.