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. RRE

    How about the fule burn bill for A/F1.

    March 23, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  2. scott weaver

    Nearly $770,000 for a one night stay in Paris supporting official business... I thought we had an Embassey in France to support diplomatic missions. Just exactly how big is the VPs personal staff, and what was he personnally doing that couldn't be done over SKYPE?

    Come on CNN, is this really investigative reporting or are you just trying to justify government over spending to our soon to be laid off or fuloughed civil servants.

    March 23, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  3. Mark

    Yet he understands the common man. Here's an idea – skype.

    March 23, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  4. PedroGonzalez

    Many of these actual physical trips are not necessary. Between email, Skype, and other modes of instant visual communication, many of our politicians could be staying at home. Corporations do this all the time to save money. Its time our government did too.

    March 23, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  5. MIke S

    "Safety and security are not negotiable," that may not be negotiable but the price tag is.
    Why doesn't the president and vice president stay at the U.S. embassy? Isn't that more secure?
    Oh, everyone from the FBI to the official manicurist wants to have first class breakfast and service. Yeah, that's it. I guess that's non-negotiable.

    March 23, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  6. bpj13

    This must be the reason they want the rich to pay more taxes so they can continue to take trips like this.

    March 23, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  7. liberal disease

    this Bozo should stay home! he is an embarrassment.

    March 23, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  8. robkoz

    More waste by the government. Meanwhile hurricane sandy victims are still displaced and foreign countries that hate us get millions of dollars. I don't care what partisan side your on. This is all so wrong. The US is the second coming of Rome.

    March 23, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  9. Dennis

    Take a look at your next paycheck. Take note of the taxes. Do some quick math on how many working families had to pay for this trip. I am willing to bet that not one productive meeting was held, no intelligence ( well..that's redundant since Biden was there) was discussed, and it was just another pr opportunity. So sad that government can not make the simple cuts necessary to at least show they are trying to be responsible with our money.

    March 23, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  10. drake remoray

    Ummm...maybe just Skype and save the taxpayers...

    March 23, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  11. Victor Maffei

    Versus what? I worked on a five (5) hour stop by president GWBush in Kampala, Uganda in 2003. It entailed having advance parties and materials well over two (2) weeks before the visits, and "clean up" activities for more than one (1) week after the brief visit. It involved Air Force one and a follow up 747 full of media and assorted USGovt support types. I put a very conservative one (1) million USDollars as cost for that very brief visit. Nobody questioned it! What wasn't questioned also was a very scary fact: an unauthorized person got on the follow up aircraft in Johannesburg, landed with the press corps at Entebbe airport, and got within six (6) feet to the President of the United States of America. So, what's all this scrutiny of WH travel all of a sudden? I just can't see all this bias directed at the present WH. How and why did we reelect Obama/Biden, and still see this ugly crap thrown out? And in the mainstream press, at that!!!

    March 23, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  12. Nate

    WOW!! I knew it was expensive, but I bet this doesn't include travel or any of the other expenses getting him there. So you are telling me while Obama is out across America campaigning for his budget etc... it is costing us this kind of money. Hmmmmm. No wonder they just can't seem to balance the budget.

    March 23, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  13. Somewhere in Montana

    You've got to give Papa Joe B. credit, the old boy knows how to throw a party 🙂

    March 23, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. Anonymous

    If this is how much it costs for Mr. Biden to travel, then he needs to stay at home.

    March 23, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  15. MKS

    $585,000 for a one-night stay in Paris.
    $321,665 for a limousine company.
    $459,338.65 for a hotel stay in London.
    The State Department says costs are "nothing out of the ordinary."

    This kind of thinking is why we're in the budget crisis that we are...

    March 23, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  16. chris

    I guess it is what the going rate is, but wonder how many White House tours that would cover.

    March 23, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  17. Ken Colwell


    March 23, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  18. Malory Archer

    In other words, no different than any other administration, but a bit of red meat for the ignorant masses who won't read past the headlines. Sigh, another "so much for the myth of the librul media" moment.

    March 23, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  19. Jerry Materne

    At half a million dollars I couldn't care less about some politician's safety. Time for a pay CUT and term limits for congressman as well if we're paying outrageous rates like this any time one of them travels.

    March 23, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  20. Pismire

    "Normal" my behind... Maybe when we build embassies in these countries, they would include room and board that could double as accommodations for our government officials when they travel. These places should already be staffed with a security team, secure communications, and are considered sovereign US soil. Wake up America.

    March 23, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  21. Paula

    this country is totally useless

    March 23, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  22. Deez

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

    Be sure you read that line before attacking the Democrats alone. Instead, understand what our government has become and listen to the ones who are trying to do something about it.

    March 23, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  23. David Orsini

    What if the President and Vice President traveled in the manner President Harry Truman traveled? That would vastly reduce travel costs such as the hotel bill.

    March 23, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  24. Common Sense

    If anyone thinks that this Administration cares about how your hard earned tax dollars are being spent then they should read this article. Do they think we're stupid? Are they claiming that there is no way they can cut a $585,000 bill for 1 night in Paris??? Disgusting!!!!!

    March 23, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  25. julnor

    It's tragic to see how hard the sequester is hampering our govt's ability to function.

    March 23, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6