Sequester? What sequester? Vice President Joe Biden’s hotel bill last month for a two-night stay — one in London, the other in Paris — came to a cool million. It’s good to be king, even assistant king.
The expense first came to the public’s attention when The Weekly Standard obtained the State Department’s contracts with the two five-star hotels during a five-day European trip.
ABC’s Arlette Saenz reported:
One contract was awarded to the Hyatt Regency London for a total of $459,338.65 while another went to the Hotel Intercontinental Paris Le Grand for $585,000.50
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 told ABC. “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.”
With a national debt approaching $17 trillion, government costs — including travel expenses for politicians and bureaucrats — have become fair game among journalists.
Last year, an Air Force spokesman disclosed to ABC’s news division that Air Force One’s operating expenses average $179,750 an hour.
The president was questioned last year about travel expenses by KMOV of St. Louis.
“The fact of the matter is, I think if you look at my track record, I’m raising a family here,” the president told the station. “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.”
Whether Obama works hard will always be up for debate. One thing is pretty clear, though: The State Department doesn’t use Priceline for hotel reservations.