WASHINGTON - The U.S. government has postponed the requirement for returning U.S. citizens to show a passport until at least next summer.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced the change Wednesday in Washington and said the Jan. 1, 2008, deadline was being extended, The Washington Post reported.
Two weeks ago, the State Department said there was a backlog of 3 million passport applications and some congressional members criticized administration's rush.
House Rules Committee Chairwoman Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., whose district includes the border city of Buffalo, N.Y., called the proposal "premature" and "not grounded in reality."
Under existing rules, U.S. travelers returning from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean can make a verbal declaration of citizenship and show a wide number of photo identification items, which Chertoff criticized.
"Those who believe we should continue to allow 8,000 documents and oral declarations are playing with fire," he said. "They are gambling with the security of this country."
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