Republican opponents are berating Vice President Joe Biden on Twitter for running up more than $1 million in hotel bills for two nights in London and Paris in the midst of sequester spending cuts.
According to ABC News, the VP incurred hotel bills totaling more than $1 million for himself, his staff and security details for two nights in London and Paris.
The official contract filing documents were first obtained online by the Weekly Standard. They show that the US State Department obtained contracts with two five-star hotels in London and Paris where Biden stayed during a five-day tour of Europe in February.
According to the documents, his bill for a night at the Hyatt Regency London was $459,338.65 and his bill for a night at the Hotel Intercontinental Paris Le Grand, $585,000.50.
The Weekly Standard explains that "due to obvious security concerns, such contracts are not open to the competitive bidding normally required on government contracts."
The accompanying document for the London contract says that the vice president and his entourage required "approximately 136 hotel rooms for 893 room nights." This amounts to about $500 per night at the hotel.
According to the Daily Mail, Biden probably stayed in a two-room, 1,851-square-foot Presidential Suite with an interconnecting entertainment area, marble bathrooms and "upscale" linens. He traveled with his wife Dr Jill Biden.
A State Department official, responding to critics, said that the bills may look hefty but they are "nothing out of the ordinary," ABC News reports.
VP Joe Biden's Hyatt Regency hotel bill
The official said: "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. Security experts are also required to travel in advance of the president or vice president. Safety and security are not negotiable."
According to the Daily Mail, Brad Dayspring, strategist for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, making a reference to the Obama administration's decision to stop tours at the White House because of budget cuts, said: "Bet that's a lot of White House tours."
Biden's Hotel Intercontinental Paris Le Grand bill
The controversial conservative commentator Ann Coulter, joked on Twitter, saying: "We need to keep him out of the mini-bar," even though Biden is known to be a teetotaler who abstains from alcohol, as the Daily Mail notes.
Conservative Congressman Randy Neugebauer from Texas also used the opportunity to attack the Democrat's plan for spending cuts. Newsmax reported he said: "Still no WH tours, but VP Biden’s recent trip to Europe racked up $1mil in hotel room bills."
ABC News notes that in comparison, a 1999 GAO report showed that President Bill Clinton's trips to Africa, Chile and China in 1998 cost $42.8 million, $10.5 million and $18.8 million, respectively, a total of over $72 million.
The White House does not normally disclose the amount paid for the trips of the president and the vice president. Responding to a question about how much the president's trip to Illinois cost earlier in the month, the White House press secretary Jay Carney said: "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. But the president has to travel around the country. He has to travel around the world. That is part of his job."
President Obama also defended the cost of his trips and allegations that he his out of touch with Americans with his family "jetting around." He told KMOV: "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."