March 22nd, 2013
09:08 PM ET
10 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.

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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. Donna

    Meanwhile, Obama and his administration cut White House tours, releases prisoners and detainees, and threaten the safety of the American people to punish them and show the $3.5 TRILLION spending of the federal government doesn't have a penny to spare or cut. Wake up America. You are being conned by the dishonest Obama and the Democrats.

    March 23, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  2. Richard Long

    Biden and barrack... Spending your futures like a BOSS!

    March 23, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  3. Dave G

    Not out of the ordinary? I don't care if it's (R) or (D), it's time to reign these clowns in.

    March 23, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. Anonymous

    And you can have a meeting over skype for free...

    March 23, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  5. avis

    Its not what the amount spent? Its about how much returns came back?

    March 23, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  6. snowtrails

    Its amazing to me how much money us taxpayers are billed for to send our garbage overseas.

    March 23, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  7. Curious

    Wonder how many salaries, jobs or what not could of been created or advanced so the old man can go trot around Paris? Interesting how that all works. This while they are furloughing government workers right and left, but hey, as long as the big boys are taken care of right? Please, this country is sad.

    March 23, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  8. James Pennington

    Go Biden. Live it up

    March 23, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  9. MyHeadHurts

    Headline: OMG SO EXPENSIVE!
    Article: Yeah that is about what it normally costs.

    March 23, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  10. Sarah

    Di you really expect him to stay at a Holiday Inn Express?

    March 23, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  11. Jeff

    Surely the United States has connections in all of Europe to implement some cost-cutting, like ask to be put up in a wing of a mansion in any of these great cities. This is just, we do because we are accountable to no one. This is not our money so why should we care about costs.

    March 23, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  12. fastfred1

    I guess they have never heard of Skype or iChat.

    March 23, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  13. dave

    This is disgusting...both parties!

    March 23, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  14. jlwhithaus

    What did he accomplish on that trip? Where is the accountability? Did they have a budget and did they stay within it? Was participation by some of those 136 absolutely necessary or were they just hangers on? If there is transparency, we should have answers to some of these questions. But these are questions that are never asked. In the WH, cost is never a question and nobody cares. No integrity there.

    March 23, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. bob

    I thought we were broke?

    March 23, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  16. Joxer the Mighty

    The fact that this is normal is ridiculous!!!

    March 23, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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