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. mb2010a

    So, in other words, this is a non-issue being raised by conservatives as usual. Perfectly normal business operations for whichever party is in the White House at the time.

    March 23, 2013 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  2. MIchael

    With our government not able to make a balanced budget and spending is sky high and both the rulers Obama and BIden traveling all over the place racking up tons of more expenses that THEY DO NOT NEED TO. I am ashamed to be an American!

    March 23, 2013 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  3. Rotten Ralph

    Can't he use the phone ?

    March 23, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  4. jeeves

    I'd like to see the guy who said "not bad" pay for it with his peanut money. He'll still be making payments when his head is gray.

    March 23, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  5. dolphin

    They obviously don't know how to negotiate!! But if ambassadors and diplomats live and stay at the embassies and consulates (which are usually guarded by armed American soldiers and local police) when they work and travel, why can't the President and Vice-President? Every other country does that, particularly because there is additional legal protection to stay on what is considered sovereign ground of an embassy or consulate.

    What isn't being mentioned here is the fact that Biden travelled with 500-some people. That is more than overkill. That mean free trips for at least 450 people. And what were the "offices" for? Why can't they work out of their own rooms like the rest of us?

    March 23, 2013 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  6. arch

    In the future they can all do teleconferencing! It is a total sham that our govt spend all our money for trips that are not needed one bit! Biden has a hard time saying his own name. What the h.e.l.l. is he going to say overseas, obimbo doesn't trust him nor does he listen to anything the other idiot says, so why waste taxpayer's money!

    March 23, 2013 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  7. Addie Bundren

    Granted, I don't know much about the logistics of these things, but don't we have secured embassies in most of the places the Pres or VP travel to?

    March 23, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  8. Michael

    Such arrogance and misrepresentation

    March 23, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  9. j wiggles prestlie

    no sir, let him stay at the paris version of motel 6 . . . not with my tax dollars no sir

    March 23, 2013 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  10. F1G

    Good to know our tax dollars are well spent.

    March 23, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  11. Sam Smith

    Emeror Biden! So glad everyone is listening to Obama's words about "shared sacrifice". This is completely nuts, the president making a big deal about closing the Whitehouse tours, but yet we spend so much more on a single trip for the VP? this trip could fund the WH tours for at least 2 or 3 years.

    March 23, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  12. Jim

    10 years pay for a educated professional.

    March 23, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  13. Ty

    Of course it wouldn't sound out of the ordinary to other govt officials who don't know how to stop spending and running up huge deficits. 136 rooms at $2000 a room? do the math.

    This is microcosm of why the US govt is an utter failure.

    March 23, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  14. NgauHuPhart

    The problem is with the process. Joe would probably be O.K. at a Hampton Inn. But the 136 person advance team, the bulletproof limo rentals – and the price of a gallon of gas in London... Pull back. Travel more like an Israeli MP. Use the discount coupons.

    March 23, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  15. Grace

    A Skype conference call might have been in order with our country in so much debt.

    March 23, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  16. Dana

    Biden is a fool.

    March 23, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  17. devin

    Should I still inflate my tires to save 50 cents a week in gas?

    March 23, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  18. Bill Rogers

    For safety we will spend 585K for 1 person for one day. But the government is going to close 147 airport towers and layoff those controllers. This effects the safety of millions. The Gov needs to represent the people and not themselves.

    March 23, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  19. gager

    Nothing but the best for the elite. Politicians no longer represent the citizens, the represent their own self interest.

    March 23, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  20. Jason

    If that's what it costs then I think the Pres and VP should be grounded.

    March 23, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  21. Mike

    That trip would pay for 50% of my 22 furlough days.

    March 23, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  22. Jason

    to clarify – not allowed to travel so often

    March 23, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  23. Jerry

    Hey, to Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama, and Moochie and her entourage this is only "chump change". The only problem: in this case, we the Américan taxpayers are the chumps.

    So, América, what else is new?! I would love to know how much Mr. Obama's recent glamour trip is costing us Américan chumps.

    Stay tuned América...

    March 23, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  24. AaronT3

    Perspective: A story on VP Biden's expenses for him and his teams to Paris and nobody dies. – versus – Cheney's company Halliburton pocketing $39.5 Billion on Iraq War where over 130,000 people (American and Iraqi) was murdered! The Republican mind is violently perverted. This shoe only fits if you still support a group having such a blatantly inordinate lust for wealth at any cost (the cost being human lives)!

    March 23, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  25. Ron

    "Safety and security are not negotiable," tell that to the guys in Benghazi! Why are we wasting money on travel for the veep, if it costs this much? Travel should be sequestered for this administration, except for serious requirements.

    March 23, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
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