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House and Senate Committee Vote to Delay Implementation of WHTI Until June 2009

June 15, 2007

House and Senate Committee Vote to Delay Implementation of WHTI Until June 2009
June 15, 2007 – On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously voted to delay implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative anytime before June 2009. Today, the full House also voted in favor of the delay. The full Senate must now vote and is expected to consider the rule’s delay in coming weeks.

This action comes after the Bush administration announced last week it will delay the air requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative due to extensive delays in processing passport applications. U.S. citizens are now allowed to travel by air with a government issued photo identification and Department of State official proof of application for a passport now through Sept. 30, 2007.

If the rule passes in the Senate, all WHTI requirements will be pushed back until after June 2009.

In addition to delaying WHTI, the bill also included language authored by Rep. Slaughter to withhold $100 million from the funds required by the Department of Homeland Security to implement WHTI until DHS has determined if driver’s licenses can be enhanced to meet the WHTI’s requirements.

The Slaughter language also requires DHS to fully test its proposed passport card before making it publicly available and develop a plan for land implementation that will be shared with the public. Finally, Rep. Slaughter’s provision requires that DHS submit a report to Congress on the success of the driver’s license pilot program, and reveal its overall WHTI roadmap before being allowed to put the proposed WHTI documentary requirements into place.

"After over two and a half years of fighting against WHTI, I am pleased to see that Congress overwhelmingly rebuked the Administration today by delaying the implementation of the flawed program until mid-2009," said Rep. Slaughter. "We sent a clear signal that we don’t trust the Administration to get WHTI done right."

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