Biden hotel tab for one night stay in Paris: $585,000
Joe Biden is sworn in for a second term as Vice President of the United States. Monday, January 21, 2013 (CNN // Pool)
PARIS (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.
By Brianna Keilar and Carol Cratty, CNN. CNN’s Ashley Killough contributed to this report.
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