So much for Amtrak Joe. The government spent $1 million on two nights in Europe for the Vice President and his entourage last month, according to government contracts posted here. CNN confirmed with the State Department that the contracts are legitimate and calls them a rare look at White House travel expenses.
The eye-popping numbers: $585,000 for one night at the Hotel Intercontinental Paris Le Grand and $459,000 for a night at the Hyatt Regency London the Churchill Hotel. (Plus $321,000 for a limousine company, although Biden’s own limousine is flown over for such trips.)
The nice, round $1 million-for-two-nights number is lighting up Twitter with outrage and jabs. But the cost breaks down to about $500 per night at a five-star hotel in the world’s most expensive cities. Nothing weird about that.
So why is the bill so high? The charges cover 136 rooms, not just Biden’s. His entourage includes Secret Service, military, a medical unit, and a team that screens and serves his food, CNN reports. The room block may include reporters, though the government doesn’t pick up their tab. Some rooms might be used as office space.
Some members of the entourage stay more than one night. The contract for the London hotel is for 893 room nights, which sounds like a lot, but it averages out to 6.5 nights per room.
The cost could include paying guests to relocate, too.
CNN ran the figures by officials from past Republican administrations, all of who said the costs were reasonable. One former senior White House staffer who supervised travel arrangements told CNN that it sounds normal to have as many as 136 rooms.
The government doesn’t let hotels compete for these contracts or security reasons. Evidently it doesn’t use Priceline, either.
[Photo credit: From documents posted on FedBizOpps.gov]