March 22nd, 2013
09:08 PM ET
5 years ago

Travel with the veep is magnifique!

(CNN) - If you think Paris is expensive, the City of Light costs a lot more when you're traveling with the vice president.

Recent documents posted to a government website give a rare glimpse of Vice President Joe Biden's overseas travel expenses.

Official business took him last month to Europe, a trip that included a bill of $585,000 for his one-night stay in Paris.

Also on the receipt was $321,665 for a limousine company and $459,338.65 for a hotel stay in London.

And while Biden was only in each town for one night, the London hotel bill, for example, included 136 rooms for multiple nights for his advance team, according to the documents posted on the website for Federal Business Opportunities and unearthed by the conservative magazine, The Weekly Standard.

Whether or not the figures were posted online intentionally remain unclear, as similar reports for previous overseas trips could not be located on the same website.

Was this deluxe or just routine?

Several officials from previous administrations said this is just what it costs to run a full-scale, overseas trip for someone like the president or the vice president.

One former official from the George W. Bush administration thought the price tag was high, but conceded there are a lot of factors that drive up the cost, such as compensation for emptying rooms or displacing guests for security purposes.

The vice president's office referred CNN to the State Department, which said the costs are "nothing out of the ordinary."

"They are in line with high level travel across multiple administrations. The contract costs cover the entire range of support, including accommodations for military, communications, secret service staff, and other support professionals," the department said in a statement.
In addition, the department said, security experts are also required to travel in advance of the president or vice president.

"Safety and security are not negotiable," the statement read.

A former senior White House staff member who served in a couple of Republican administrations and whose responsibilities included oversight of travel, said the hotel rate of $500 per night in London is "not bad," adding it sounds normal to have as many as 136 rooms.

"It doesn't seem out of line to me," the source said.
The State Department has a contract with the Hyatt Regency London-the Churchill, the former official said of the necessary agreement in such cases so several floors of a hotel can be reserved at once.
The largest number of rooms for a trip normally goes to the Secret Service. Next comes the military, which sets up secure communications.

Following that are the medical unit and the stewards, who screen and serve food to the president, vice president or other top officials, and then the military.

The flight crew from Air Force One or Air Force Two may also be staying in the hotel or they could be at a different location, the former official said.
Reporters following the vice president or president may also stay at the same hotel - on their own dime. But the White House team usually reserves those rooms as part of the group block.

A former advance person who worked presidential and vice presidential trips for several Republican administrations said 136 rooms isn't surprising, and added that as many as 20 of those might be used for offices.

As for the limousine to travel around Paris, the former advance official said that goes for the motor pool.

The vice president's limo is flown in, but staff members on the trip didn't take the Metro around. They're not allowed to drive themselves and tend to book normal cars and drivers with the motor company-but don't necessarily take limousines. The $321,665 figure in Paris sounded about right, that former official said.

- CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Filed under: Joe Biden
soundoff (141 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    The cost of sending these people ANYWHERE, is simply outrageous. Just think about all of those campaign trips Obama has made, and continues to make..........and how much that is costing the taxpayers. It is obscene!

    March 22, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  2. mrsahilm

    Excited to see how many Republicans will read only the first two paragraphs and comment here about "wasteful Biden" without reading the part that says these costs are completely normal according to Republican sources

    March 22, 2013 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  3. Anthony

    Why do we put up with this?

    March 22, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  4. Revolution

    The U.S. government is a crime syndicate writ large.

    March 22, 2013 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  5. Mike Farrell

    Everything related to Joe Biden has become an absurdity.

    March 22, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  6. Joe

    136 rooms everywhere he goes... And he's only the vice pres.

    March 22, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  7. pauls95blazer

    That's just great; Spend OUR tax money on only the best for our politicians. What a waste of our money. They can't balance the budget but can spend our money like it's never ending. It has to stop.

    March 22, 2013 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  8. Jim Marler

    Perhaps we should have limits on all politicians where it is the President, VP or other elected officials. A waste of tax payers money.

    March 22, 2013 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  9. e

    This administration is doing the same things as every other... how is that news?

    March 22, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  10. dynadigger

    I hope he got something good done for all that cash.

    March 22, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  11. yolanda

    What a great country. Now, if we can just stop wasting money on education and healthcare.......

    March 22, 2013 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  12. realbigdog

    Wow our leaders do not have enough tax dollars to have White House tours, but do have enough money for a big night on the town. The cuts in government service our aimed at hurting us, they choose to give up nothing.

    March 22, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  13. Belseth

    Funny how none of this was an issue when the Republicans were in office. I just wonder if CNN and the rest will be reporting these stories the next time the Republicans are in charge?

    March 22, 2013 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  14. wow

    I bet every cent of it was Taxpayer funded.

    March 22, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  15. HenkV

    Please realize that it is only people that spend their OWN money that are the villains in this country. Now when you STEAL it that's absolutely OK.

    March 22, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  16. ashamed

    this is shameful!

    March 22, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  17. Lester

    Ok, put the democrat and republican stuff a-side....this is a lot of money, is it not? I totally understand security but can't we do something different? Skype works great and it is free. This country is trillion's in debt and we are continually giving millions to other countries and yet our problems at home are really not going away. I wonder if the president where to look at the US from an outside perspective would he think this is a great land? or would he say we are messed up? I also understand international relations are needed too, but can't we do this a little different? Keep the President (which ever party he is from) but maybe we can accomplish our goals and not go bankrupt from it.

    March 22, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  18. theala

    It doesn't matter whether the costs are reasonable or not. The conspiracy theorists will moan and make a mountain out of a molehill.

    March 22, 2013 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  19. John

    $585,000 for one night in Paris? I read where it costed tax payers $1.2 billion to keep up the Obamas in 2011.Apparently the economic problems never touch them. Now how many jobs is the 2% "accross the board
    cuts in the federal government going to cost? The airports losing tower controlers ect ect, and US FOOLS
    re-elected them.

    March 22, 2013 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  20. PJR

    How is this possible? How is this acceptable? I'm a Democrat. I don't mind contributing my share to the common good. But this seems egregious. Is this what my taxes go up for in 2013? Is this why spending cuts can't take effect, and instead Obama wants to further raise taxes? So loser, ineffective, fifth wheel Biden travels around? What is he even going abroad for? What does he even do? I thought Obama was all about transparency. You should be able to go to the White House web site and see a spreadsheet accounting for every pound sterling and every euro this yahoo is spending while a significant percentage of the population is struggling to make their monthly rent.

    March 22, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  21. Jim

    Great, conservatives are going to freak. Not a word with any other administration but with this one, they will cry to mama bear Palin for months.

    March 22, 2013 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  22. Southern Man

    I'm thinking they need to use video conferencing a bit more.

    March 22, 2013 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  23. Al

    I have an about not go? As a government employee about to be sequestered, $1.4-plus million could be put to use by funding salaries. It could fund a lot of days and productivity, well, maybe not the TSA but there are a lot of other agencies that actually do provide a service.

    March 22, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  24. Sheryl Mexic

    I wish they wouldn't even report these government expenses as there is nothing the public can do about it.

    March 22, 2013 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  25. Larry L

    Interesting that folks are discovering that travel for the world's most influential and at-risk leaders is an expensive endeavor. When people inside and outside of America wish our leaders grevious harm, the cost of security details, diplomatic staff, and the associated transportation assets are extremely high. It's not a liberal plot and these expenses have been a part of every administration's overhead. The same people who complain are the folks who have complained about too few trips to Israel and not enough direct supervision of every outpost and diplomatic office on the planet.

    March 22, 2013 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
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