Saturday, June 19, 2021


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Political Voices: Pack your bags


As COVID-19 cases are on the decline and more countries open up for summer travel, Americans are starting to pack their bags and get on the road. 

According to TSA, nearly two million people went through airport security on May 23rd – that’s the highest number of air travelers TSA has seen since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Before you hit the road – or the tarmac – don’t forget a few of the essentials: money, your ID, sunscreen, and if you’re going abroad, your up-to-date passport. 

With the shutdown of many federal offices during the pandemic, it wasn’t exactly easy to get a new passport – so be sure to plan ahead. Even if you already have a passport, make sure to double check your expiration date. Some countries even require passports to be at least six months from expiration (check out travel.state.gov for specific country travel information). But if for some reason you find yourself in a bind, always remember my office may be able to help. 

A few weeks ago, my office received a frantic email from a constituent stuck in Denver on a layover. A South Dakota family was en route to their family vacation to Mexico when they were told by TSA their trip would be a no-go. The reason? Their child’s passport had gone through the wash and was considered “damaged” by TSA. 

Thankfully, the constituent service representatives in my offices in Rapid City, Sioux Falls, and Aberdeen are trained to handle rare situations like these. Our office contacted the National Passport Agency in Colorado and we were able to get them a same-day appointment for a new passport. Within two hours, this family had an updated passport and were on their way to their family vacation. 

My offices strive to make South Dakotans’ lives easier. Whether you’re gearing up for summer travel, needing assistance with a federal agency like the Social Security Administration, or have concerns with your VA benefits, please don’t hesitate to call our state offices.

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