Passport plan delayed

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(Host) The Bush Administration has delayed a plan that would require passports for travel to and from Canada by car.

The plan was scheduled to take effect January 1st.

A backlog of passport applications led to a decision earlier this month to relax similar requirements for air travelers.

Senator Patrick Leahy has been fighting the requirement, saying that the Homeland Security Department was recklessly risking American travel plans and local economies. He says it’s important to at least delay implementation, until procedures are in place to handle the surge in applications.

The Vermont Chamber of Commerce has urged Homeland Security to take more of a common sense approach.

Duane Marsh is with the Chamber of Commerce. He says the delay in requiring passports is helpful, but that the state is continuing to work with Canada and other New England states to resolve the issue.

(Marsh) “The situation is still something that we’re working on, we certainly don’t want to restrict trade and visitation between Vermont and Canada, and so I guess a delay to look at it a little more thoroughly is always good, but it’s still a thing that needs to be worked on.”

(Host) Homeland Security has said any inconvenience in implementing the passport requirement pales in comparison to the need to secure the northern border.

But yesterday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said We’re not going to drop the axe on January 1st, 2008 .

The plan now is to postpone the new passport rules for at least 6 months, taking effect no sooner than summer of 2008.

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