According to a report from the Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF), the Biden administration is continuing to tell American citizens trapped in Afghanistan that if they want to be evacuated out of the country, they must pay a cost that could exceed $2,000 — which comes hours after a spokesperson for the State Department told the media otherwise.
The Daily Caller News Foundation did some digging into the online forms that individuals are required to fill out if they want to secure a spot on a repatriation flight.
The form requires users to select “I understand and wish to continue with this request” for the following two questions:
14. Repatriation flights are not free. All passengers will need to reimburse the U.S. Government for the flight. A promissory note for the full cost of the flight, which may exceed $2,000 per person, must be signed by each adult passenger before boarding. No cash or credit card payments will be accepted.
15. Loan Repayment. While my passport will not be canceled, U.S. citizens who have signed a loan agreement for repatriation may not be eligible for a new passport until the loan is repaid.
State Department spokesman Ned Price, 4 hours ago: "In these unique circumstances, we have no intention of seeking any reimbursement from those fleeing Afghanistan."
Required US Gov. form, RIGHT NOW: "All passengers will need to reimburse the U.S. Government for the flight." pic.twitter.com/aM8vz7doTO
— Andrew Kerr (@AndrewKerrNC) August 20, 2021
Politico broke the story earlier on Thursday, reporting:
Even though U.S. officials tell NatSec Daily and others that evacuation flights from Kabul will be free, people trying to catch a plane in the Afghan capital say differently. One person said State Department staff were seeking large payments — up to $2,000 — from American passengers and even more from non-U.S. citizens.
Politico says that it confronted the State Department over the matter, which they said did not deny that it was happening.
“U.S. law requires that evacuation assistance to private U.S. citizens or third country nationals be provided ‘on a reimbursable basis to the maximum extent practicable,’” the spokesperson said. “The situation is extremely fluid, and we are working to overcome obstacles as they arise.”
“In other words, the Biden administration may request payments for evacuation flights,” the report added.
Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) responded to the report by saying that she was creating legislation to ban the U.S. government from charging Americans for the flights.
“Biden created this crisis, now he wants to charge Americans who are desperately fleeing the Taliban? That’s wrong,” she wrote on Twitter. “We should not be making Americans pay for their ride to safety. I’m drafting legislation now to PROHIBIT the US government from charging Americans, period.”
State Department Spokesman Ned Price claimed to the Daily Caller on Thursday afternoon that the administration has “no intention of seeking any reimbursement from those fleeing Afghanistan,” which contradicts what the State Department said over the weekend.
“Repatriation flights are not free, and passengers will be required to sign a promissory loan agreement and may not be eligible to renew their U.S. passports until the loan is repaid,” the administration said in a security alert issued on Saturday. “The cost may be $2,000USD or more per person.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.