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                                                       Calendar No. 239
110th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                    110-109

======================================================================



 
            DEPARTMENT OF STATE CRISIS RESPONSE ACT OF 2007

                                _______
                                

                 June 27, 2007.--Ordered to be printed

          Mr. Biden, from the Committee on Foreign Relations,
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 966]

    The Committee on Foreign Relations, having had under 
consideration the bill S. 966, to enable the Department of 
State to respond to a critical shortage of passport processing 
personnel, and for other purposes, reports favorably thereon 
and recommends that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page

  I. Purpose..........................................................1
 II. Legislative History and Committee Action.........................1
III. Discussion.......................................................2
 IV. Cost Estimate....................................................3
  V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact..................................3
 VI. Changes in Existing Law..........................................3

                               I. Purpose

    This legislation is designed to facilitate the hiring of 
Foreign Service retirees to assist in processing of passport 
and visa applications.

              II. Legislative History and Committee Action

    S. 966 was introduced by Senator Schumer on March 22, 2007. 
It is cosponsored by Senators Coleman, Hagel and Biden. On June 
19, 2007, the Subcommittee on International Operations and 
Organizations, Democracy and Human Rights, chaired by Senator 
Nelson, conducted a hearing on the backlog of passport 
applications at the Department of State, and the Department's 
response to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. On June 
27, 2007, the committee ordered the bill reported favorably by 
voice vote, after approving a substitute amendment proposed by 
Senator Biden.

                            III. Discussion

    In the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 
2004 (Sec. 7209 of P.L. 108-458) (which implemented certain 
recommendations of the 9/11 Commission), Congress enacted what 
is known as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). 
That provision requires the Secretary of Homeland Security, in 
consultation with the Secretary of State, to develop and 
implement a plan to require a passport or other document for 
all travel into the United States by United States citizens. 
Prior to the enactment of the law, citizens returning from 
certain countries in the Western Hemisphere were, of course, 
required to prove citizenship, but they did not need to show a 
passport to do that.
    The first phase of this passport requirement was 
implemented earlier this year. As of January 23, 2007, all 
citizens entering the United States by air from any part of the 
Western Hemisphere were required to have a passport. The second 
phase of this passport requirement--which will apply to the 
land and sea borders--could begin as early as January 2008, but 
must be implemented no later than June 1, 2009. Earlier this 
month, however, the House of Representatives and the Senate 
Committee on Appropriations both voted to delay implementation 
of the second phase; under that legislation, it would commence 
no sooner than June 1, 2009.
    The law has spurred a record demand for passports. In the 
first seven months of Fiscal Year 2007, there was a 33 percent 
increase in applications over the same period in Fiscal Year 
2006. In the first few months of this calendar year, there was 
a substantial enormous surge of passport applications, more 
than the Department of State was prepared to handle. The result 
has been a significant delay in processing hundreds of 
thousands of applications. Citizens are now waiting from 10 to 
12 weeks to receive their passports, twice the normal 
processing time of four to six weeks. As a result, many U.S. 
citizens planning foreign travel have been greatly 
inconvenienced, and some have had to delay or forego their 
travel plans, at considerable cost. The committee believes this 
is an unacceptable situation. Regardless of when the second 
phase of the WHTI is implemented, the Department must improve 
its performance. The committee intends to monitor closely the 
Department's implementation of the WHTI requirements in the 
coming year.
    S. 966 will provide an additional tool to the Department of 
State, enabling it to recruit and hire Foreign Service retirees 
in order to assist in the processing of passport applications, 
as well as with visa applications at overseas posts with a 
substantial backlog of such applications. Because many Foreign 
Service retirees are already trained for these functions, and 
have the requisite security clearances, they can be hired and 
assigned to duty in a short time period.
    Indeed, many such retirees are already working for the 
Department. Under the Foreign Service Act of 1980, Foreign 
Service retirees may continue to receive their pension payments 
while employed for the federal government; but they may do so 
only for six months of the year, or until they reach a salary 
cap (which relates to a number of factors personal to the 
retiree). S. 966 will permit the Secretary of State to waive 
these limitations in order to permit Foreign Service retirees 
to work during the entire year without foregoing their pension 
payments, in two circumstances: (1) in order to provide 
assistance to consular posts with a substantial backlog of visa 
applications; or (2) to provide assistance to meet the passport 
and travel document demand resulting from the Western 
Hemisphere Travel Initiative.
    This authority is granted until September 30, 2010. 
Providing this authority for three years will permit the 
Department the necessary flexibility in hiring for the 
continued demand for passports that is expected under the WHTI. 
The termination date coincides with the sunset of a passport 
fee surcharge authority--also enacted because of the WHTI--
provided to the State Department in the Passport Services 
Enhancement Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-167). Congress will therefore 
have the opportunity to consider whether to renew both 
authorities simultaneously.

                           IV. Cost Estimate

    At the time of the filing of this report, the cost estimate 
required by Rule XXVI, paragraph 11(a) of the Standing Rules of 
the Senate, had not yet been provided by the Congressional 
Budget Office. The committee will publish it in the 
Congressional Record when it is available.

                   V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact

    Pursuant to Rule XXVI, paragraph 11(b) of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, the committee has determined that there is 
no regulatory impact as a result of this legislation.

                      VI. Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with Rule XXVI, paragraph 12 of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by the bill, 
as reported, are shown as follows (existing law proposed to be 
omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new matter is printed in 
italic, existing law in which no change is proposed is shown in 
roman).

Foreign Service Act of 1980

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


TITLE I--THE FOREIGN SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



Chapter 8--Foreign Service Retirement and Disability

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


    Sec. 824. Reemployment.--(a) * * *


    

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *
    (g) Waiver.--(1) The Secretary of State may waive the 
application of subsections (a) through (d) on a case-by-case 
basis for an annuitant reemployed on a temporary basis, or 
grant authority to the head of an Executive agency to waive the 
application of subsections (a) through (d) on a case-by-case 
basis for an annuitant reemployed on a temporary basis--

          (A) if, and for so long as, such waiver is necessary 
        due to an emergency involving a direct threat to life 
        or property or other unusual circumstances[; or] ;

          (B) to facilitate the assignment of persons to Iraq 
        and Afghanistan or to posts vacated by members of the 
        Service assigned to Iraq and Afghanistan, if the 
        annuitant is employed in a position for which there is 
        exceptional difficulty in recruiting or retaining a 
        qualified employee[.] ; or

          (C)(i) to provide assistance to consular posts with a 
        substantial backlog of visa applications; or

          (ii) to provide assistance to meet the demand 
        resulting from the passport and travel document 
        requirements set forth in section 7209(b) of the 
        Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 
        2004 (Public Law 108-458; 8 U.S.C. 1185 note).

    (2) The authority of the Secretary to waive the application 
of subsections (a) through (d) for an annuitant pursuant to 
subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1), or to grant authority to the 
head of an Executive agency to waive the application of such 
subsections to an annuitant under such subparagraph, shall 
terminate on October 1, 2008. An annuitant reemployed pursuant 
to such authority prior to such termination date may be 
employed for a period ending not later than one year after such 
date.

    (3) The authority of the Secretary to waive the application 
of subsections (a) through (d) for an annuitant pursuant to 
paragraph (1)(C) shall terminate on September 30, 2010.

    [(3)] (4) The Secretary should prescribe procedures for the 
exercise of any authority under paragraph (1)(B), including 
criteria for any exercise of authority and procedures for a 
delegation of authority.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *