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. andrew

    so we spent $1M on two nights for the vice president and security. is there no way that this can be economized? must he stay at hotels instead of military bases? must we spend like this when airport towers are closing and the sequester is forcing governmental cutbacks/furloughs?
    this is not a partisan issue (note that both parties have spent in this manner), just a mind-numbingly unbelievable expenditure of money for questionable necessity.

    March 22, 2013 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  2. Jane M.

    This is disgusting when there are starving people in this country.

    March 22, 2013 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  3. Duke Underwood

    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.

    March 22, 2013 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Why do rich democrats like Biden want us to pay more taxes?

    March 22, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  5. Nick

    And I am being furloughed for 4 days a month on my Government job where I make less than $25,000 a year so this clown can fly around the world and waste our hard earn tax money.

    March 22, 2013 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  6. Dan

    This makes me sick, so many American people are living in poverty and starving while the vp spends millions BY HIMSELF like its nothing. These people need to be overthrown, like now. They have gotten out of our control and this is just one example.

    March 22, 2013 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  7. dave

    Pathetic; if this is what it costs, BAN travel except for dire means; let Hussein and his VP use SKYPE like the rest of us.

    March 22, 2013 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  8. time bandit

    This is pathetic! Govt civilians getting furloughed and this waste of close to 1 mil is spent sending the veep to France....makes me sick!

    March 22, 2013 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  9. davecu

    That problem will continue until they run out of OUR money.
    There's been no effort to curtail the spending of this administration.

    March 23, 2013 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  10. bryan

    "They are in line with high level travel across multiple administrations."

    Genocide is in line with things that were acceptable to Hitler. That doesn't make it right.

    March 23, 2013 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  11. Mike

    This is just plain stupid, but we are a stupid people and we will not do a thing about it but complain. If this is nothing out of the ordinary just consider the other trips that are routine.

    March 23, 2013 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  12. don

    It doesn't matter what it costs. We can just print the money needed to pay it. Cost is irrelevant.

    March 23, 2013 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  13. Jeebusss

    This is an asinine article. This is what it cost previous presidents/vice presidents to travel with accompanying security/diplomatic corps., and it is what it will cost the next president/vice president to travel. It has nothing whatsoever to do with personal spending habits.

    March 23, 2013 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  14. Thomas Greteman

    Oh sure. It's important for our Vice President to travel overseas at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars so he, our Vice President, can speak (usually with foot-in-mouth) on behalf of our President Whatever. It's only taxpayer money, and the VP needs something to do with his time. DISGUSTING!!!!

    March 23, 2013 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  15. John

    Bottom line you have to be rich and powerful to play with poor peoples tax money. From top of mountain you can see peoples heads not sorrow in their eyes

    March 23, 2013 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  16. for real?

    ...and he needed to go to Paris why??? Disgusting waste in a bad economic climate by a lame-duck administration.

    March 23, 2013 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  17. KlintzCNN

    This is sure to get the Obama-bashers in a ruckus. The same comments arose out of former President Bush's/VP Cheney's travels. As they did for former President Clinton/VP Gore and former President Bush Sr/VP Quayle too.

    It's not cheap to to protect America's leaders.

    They can't even go on vacation without the official entourage.

    Should we put the President/VP of the United States in a Motel 6 (or whatever the local cheap hotels are) whenever they travel overseas?

    The cost of President Obama's trip to the Mid-East will surely raise eyebrows from unemployed Americans or those who are facing furloughs (fed/state/local employees).

    March 23, 2013 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  18. el dono

    I hope this seems ridiculous to at least some people. 136 rooms for his "advance" team? What a WASTE.

    March 23, 2013 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  19. They should stay on military bases

    In countries with US military installations government officials should be required to stay there (as military and DoD civillians are required). $40-$50 for VAQ is a sight better than $585,000.

    March 23, 2013 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  20. Tiredofthehypocrisy

    Yet we can't afford to keep the White House open for tours.

    March 23, 2013 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  21. Adrian O

    They are robbing us blind right under our noses and we are apparently powerless to stop it! both democrats and republicans wear the "for the people" mask while they slide their greedy fingers into our pockets

    March 23, 2013 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  22. Scottymac

    Can't wait for someone to justify this....

    March 23, 2013 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  23. Joe

    Seems outta line to me...more like outrageous!

    March 23, 2013 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  24. Martha Ireland

    Fine, just FINE. What an absolute JERK! Imagine what it costs for the President to travel?

    And most of the middle class is out of work.

    March 23, 2013 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  25. Steve Lyons

    We need to restrict the elected officials to teleconferencing...... As a country running a deficit, this is an insult to every taxpayer.

    March 23, 2013 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
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