A reader comment reminded me of the strange reality of US public diplomacy. As an effort to offset costs after Congress cut their operating budget (we hope this is the reason), some US embassies charge for the opportunity to setup an appointment to get a visa to enter the US. At US consulate in The Hague, the charge is €15 (about $18). The consulate does recommend making sure you have all your documentation in order so you need only make one call – which they say you can do from anywhere in the world (which is a curious thing to say unless they are implying you can call collect).
As the reader noted,
What a strange image this builds of America in a country which has diplomatic relations for hundreds of years.
I checked of four other US posts in Europe and failed to find a similar fee, which either makes Amsterdam unique or quicker to implement a policy. UPDATE: Jonathan writes that our embassy in Brussels requires the same payment.
If this is the result of budget constraints and not a policy shift, has a demand signal been made to the budget and appropriations committees on the Hill (or to Jack Lew and others in State) on the need to get money to correct such problems?