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You say you're going overseas on vacation, you still don't have your passport , and your flight leaves tomorrow?

You're not alone. The 13 US national passport offices have been buried under a mountain of passport requests. Chicago alone faces a backlog of 35,000 applications. Processing that usually takes two or three weeks is taking as long as eight weeks there. Why the crunch? A sound dollar, bargain air fares, and attractive tours are enticing more Americans than ever to go abroad.

But help may be at hand. Sen. Charles Percy (R) of Illinois, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has offered an amendment to a State Department authorization bill to extend the life of passports from five to 10 years.

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