Late last week, Congress approved an amendment to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative that will delay new passport rules for land and sea border crossings until June 1, 2009, reports Travel Weekly (registration required). However, you'll still need a passport to enter the U.S. by air from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda as of January 8, 2007.
Had there been no last-minute amendment, all travelers by land would have been required to carry a passport to enter or re-enter the U.S. at the Canadian or Mexican borders as of January 8, 2007. Additionally, cruise travelers would have needed a passport to return to the U.S. from Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada, or Bermuda.
This is viewed as a victory for many in the travel industry, who feared that the passport requirement would negatively affect tourism revenue. And while that may be true, I think it's also a sad testament to just how many Americans (about 80 percent) never bother to get a passport.