Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Europe last month led to a hefty tab with over $1 million for hotels for himself, staff and security for two nights in London and Paris, government documents show.
As first reported by The Weekly Standard, documents show that the U.S. State Department obtained contracts with two five-star hotels in London and Paris where the vice president stayed for two nights during a five-day tour of Europe last month.
While the figure may be eye-popping, a State Department official said these costs are par for the course in high-level international trips as they also include accommodations for staff, security details and military personnel.
“These costs are nothing out of the ordinary. They are in line with high-level travel across multiple administrations,” the State Department official said. ”The contract costs cover the entire range of support, including accommodations for military, communications, secret service staff, and other support professionals. Security experts are also required to travel in advance of the president or vice president. Safety and security are not negotiable.”
A 1999 GAO report showed that trips President Bill Clinton took to Africa, Chile and China in 1998 cost $42.8 million, $10.5 million and $18.8 million, respectively – adding up to over $72 million. There were 1302 travelers to Africa, while 592 and 510 people were on the trips to Chile and China, respectively.
The White House normally does not disclose the amount paid for the vice president and president’s travel. Last year, an Air Force official told ABC News that one hour of flying time aboard Air Force One totaled $179,750 in FY2012.
White House press secretary Jay Carney would not reveal how much the president’s day trip to Illinois earlier this month would cost when asked about it by ABC News’ White House correspondent Jonathan Karl.
“I don’t have a figure on the cost of presidential travel. It is obviously something, as every president deals with because of security and staff, a significant undertaking,” Carney said. “But the president has to travel around the country. He has to travel around the world. That is part of his job.”
In an interview during the campaign last year, President Obama said the decisions about travel are not up to him when he was asked if he was out of touch with ordinary Americans when his family is “jetting around” on Air Force One.
“The fact of the matter is, I think if you look at my track record, I’m raising a family here. When we travel, we got to travel through Secret Service, and Air Force One, that’s not my choice. I think most folks understand how hard I work and how hard this administration is working on behalf of the American people,” Obama told KMOV of St Louis.