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. Jack

    That's ridiculous. Some of that money could go to starving people on the streets.

    March 23, 2013 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  2. Yick

    Tax money! Cut please!

    March 23, 2013 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  3. Matt

    Ya, but what everybody keeps forgetting is that the limo bill included fees for that special agent to get picked up after taking out that really bad guy by using that special weapon that had to be hidden inside that super model's dress that could only be designed by that fashion designer so that the whole job could look legitimate. So let's keep it all in perspective.

    March 23, 2013 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  4. StopBeingFrivolous

    Meanwhile, children are starving in our own country and folks are still grappling with the state of the economy and the effects of an unstable period of financial uncertainty. That amount of money would have easily provided food and shelter both to an effected family. Way to go Biden. You just managed to make the country look bad...

    Hope it was worth it for a single lavish trip.

    March 23, 2013 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  5. J.V.Hodgson

    Hi y'all ,
    First off $500 = STG 330.00. In my past life I could book a so called executive floor room on a corportae contract rate at much less than that ( around 220.00) and it included always free English or continental breakfast and usually free internet access.
    Locating everyone in the same hotel is in itself a security risk the rest could stay in much less costly places flight crew especially at say airport hotels. Or from what i hear about airforce one or tow for a one night stopover look after themselves On the aircraft I gather both1/2 can prepare fresh cooked meals for all passengers.
    136 people/ rooms to support the security of one man is nonsense.
    The last very nice hotel I stayed at in Uk cost STG 70 $105 per night and included Full english buffet style breakfast, or take you pick continental breakfast at the buffet, and you could mix and match breakfast. Each table person 1 visit to the buffet, via a coupon.

    March 23, 2013 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  6. Joe

    Travel for what purpose? To chit chat with someone? An online meeting is next to free and has far fewer security concerns. You can chit chat all day long on the computer. A phone call, teleconference, or telepresence is pretty cheap too and every bit as effective as physical meetings, particularly telepresence. I fail to see what business absolutely requires the VPs physical appearance. Business can be conducted 100% online now. THere is really no reason to hold a physical meeting anymore, especially if its gonna cost us half a million.

    March 23, 2013 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  7. Pablo

    Seems outrageous to me for a one night stay. But that's our government.

    March 23, 2013 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  8. eddhur

    he needs to stay in DC and make a call

    March 23, 2013 03:38 am at 3:38 am |
  9. waste

    Ridiculous, why not have VP stay at the embassies instead?

    March 23, 2013 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  10. S Kyle

    So, the story here is: Vice President Biden takes a trip to Europe and it costs just as much as it ever has for any modern sitting U.S. President or Vice President... Excellent work, CNN. Find something else to cover. There are atrocities going on right now all over the world. Pick one.

    March 23, 2013 04:16 am at 4:16 am |
  11. jane e shankorik

    July 4th Celebrations: Pres.& Vice go overnight camping, on the front lawn of the Whitehouse. Wieners, beans and mallow-bars and sparkers!!!

    March 23, 2013 04:20 am at 4:20 am |
  12. Jack Alex

    Why are we paying for this guy to travel around? There is nothing, I repeat nothing thats remotely important enough to send this guy anywhere out of walking distance of Washington DC.

    March 23, 2013 04:46 am at 4:46 am |
  13. Rob

    1/2 a million for a night. Sounds Legit. No wonder the USA is going broke.

    March 23, 2013 04:53 am at 4:53 am |
  14. jrsyjorg

    while the marines are told to save every round, Biden is partyin hardy....anyone know why this trip was so important?

    March 23, 2013 05:31 am at 5:31 am |
  15. baker boy

    Gosh Rocket Scientist,Bachman, you know, "pray away the gay girl"will want a little more important info, like the number of chefs,dog walkers,you know important stuff that she always keys in on!

    March 23, 2013 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  16. mmi16

    Government cost money.

    March 23, 2013 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  17. John Smith

    It's pathetic how these guys love to blow taxpayer money and this crap while we all pay the price. Seriously time to impeach these clowns!

    March 23, 2013 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  18. FreeFromTheism

    maybe now the POTUS and the VP will know how much they cost the taxpayer..
    go figure, you learn something new every day

    March 23, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  19. Governor Pierce

    Sounds a bit on the cheap side.

    March 23, 2013 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  20. Mike

    Its the little peoples money

    March 23, 2013 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  21. jnpa

    Brianna Keilar and Carol Cratty must be on the Michelle Bachmann team. If they don't know that these costs are normal per officials from previous administrations, then why write a story to make it sound excessive? Maybe they should have done some research first and find out what the cost would be, then write a story if it were all out of line. Bad reporting CNN!

    March 23, 2013 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  22. Jerry

    This sounds about right?!
    Are you serious?

    March 23, 2013 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  23. Jen

    Then Stay Home.... maybe that will pass moderation.

    March 23, 2013 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  24. USA Broke we know why the economy is broke and we are in debt as a country. Absolutely an American Tragedy!!! The government takes 40% from my pay and another 40% from my retirement if I deduct is all to pay for this Tax Waste. Party's, trips to exotic places, expensive meals,Limo's and who knows what is where our money goes...SHAME ON YOU Fed.

    March 23, 2013 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  25. Jerry

    The Marines are being told to "save every bullet" in a war zone due to sequestration and Joe Biden goes to Paris and gets 136 hotel rooms for security reasons at the same time?

    Sounds like the commander in chief should have cancelled the trip to let the marines buy some bullets.

    The problem isn't government funding, it's government spending. Prioritize and BUDGET!!!

    March 23, 2013 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
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