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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.

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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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