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When it comes to government planes and political trips, who pays for a president's campaign travel?

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When it comes to government planes and political trips, who pays for a president's campaign travel?
News

News

When it comes to government planes and political trips, who pays for a president's campaign travel?

2024-04-21 20:35 Last Updated At:04-22 02:40

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s no simple matter to move the commander in chief from point A to B, and it’s even more complicated when the president is seeking a second term.

President Joe Biden recently spent three days in Pennsylvania, a pivotal state in the 2024 campaign, and he plans to be in Virginia and Florida this coming week. The Democratic incumbent is seeking an edge over Republican Donald Trump as he ramps up his travels around the country.

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FILE - President Joe Biden, second from left, boards Air Force One, March 28, 2024, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Biden is headed to New York for a fundraiser. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s no simple matter to move the commander in chief from point A to B, and it’s even more complicated when the president is seeking a second term.

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., April 12, 2024, enroute to New Castle, Del. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., April 12, 2024, enroute to New Castle, Del. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., March 11, 2024, to travel to Manchester, N.H. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., March 11, 2024, to travel to Manchester, N.H. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One, March 13, 2024, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. en route to Milwaukee. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One, March 13, 2024, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. en route to Milwaukee. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, March 21, 2024, in Dallas, en route to Houston. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, March 21, 2024, in Dallas, en route to Houston. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden, center right, and first lady Jill Biden, center left, walk off Air Force One, March 29, 2024, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden, center right, and first lady Jill Biden, center left, walk off Air Force One, March 29, 2024, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One, March 11, 2024, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One, March 11, 2024, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez, File)

Here's a look at how much it costs and who pays the bill during the campaign season.

It's not cheap to fly the president's fleet.

The White House uses Sikorsky helicopters known as Marine One when the president is aboard, as well as custom Boeing 747s that are immediately recognizable as the iconic humpback Air Force One. (Sometimes the president uses a more modest modified 757 if his destination is nearby or if a runway isn't long enough to accommodate the bigger plane.)

Marine One costs between $16,700 and almost $20,000 per hour to operate, according to Pentagon data for the 2022 budget year. Air Force One is even more expensive: roughly $200,000 per hour.

But those figures only scratch the surface of the real cost. There also are military cargo planes that travel ahead of the president to make sure his armored limousines are in place, not to mention the enormous security apparatus that follows the president everywhere.

New aircraft are in the works because the current versions are decades old. Sikorsky is producing 23 updated helicopters to serve as Marine One. Boeing is building two new Air Force One planes, and they are scheduled to be finished by 2028. According to the Pentagon, the planes will come with all enhancements, including “a mission communication system," a “self-defense system” and even “autonomous baggage loading.”

When the president flies for political purposes, the campaign is supposed to pay the bill. But during an election year, the line between governing and campaigning can be fuzzy.

For example, Biden held an official event Wednesday in Pittsburgh, where he announced his proposal for higher tariffs on steel imported from China. The event, however, was a not-so-subtle opportunity for the president to rub shoulders with union members who are critical to his reelection, and he jabbed at Trump in his remarks. (At one point Biden joked that the former president was “busy right now,” a reference to the hush money trial that recently got underway in New York.)

It's up to the White House counsel's office to figure out what percentage of the president's travels are campaign related. That determines how much the federal government should be reimbursed by the Biden campaign. Sometimes the calculations aren't straightforward, such as when the White House adds an official event to an otherwise political trip.

Norm Eisen, a White House ethics lawyer under President Barack Obama, said both Republicans and Democrats have usually hewed closely to regulations.

“We had a set of rules on how to do the allocations," he said. "They’re intricate, and we stuck to them.”

No matter what, taxpayers end up on the hook for most of the cost. Campaigns do not pay for all the Secret Service agents and the rest of the security apparatus. In fact, they usually only cover the cost of Air Force One passengers who are flying for explicitly political purposes — sort of like buying a ticket on a particularly exclusive private jet.

Biden's campaign and his joint fundraising committee have been stockpiling travel cash in an escrow account maintained by the Democratic National Committee. From January 2023 until the end of last month, they deposited nearly $6.5 million.

Some of that money goes to general campaign logistics, such as staff expenses and advance work. The account is also used to reimburse the federal government for official aircraft used to transport the president, the first lady, the vice president and the second gentleman when they travel for the reelection effort.

So far, not much money has found its way back to the U.S. Treasury. As of the latest data available, just $300,000 has been provided.

It's safe to assume that Biden's campaign will end up forking over much more than that once the campaign is over. Trump's team reimbursed the federal government nearly $4.7 million for travel expenses during the 2020 race.

But Biden probably won't have trouble covering his bills. His campaign and the DNC had more than $192 million in cash on hand at the end of March.

AP White House Correspondent Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

FILE - President Joe Biden, second from left, boards Air Force One, March 28, 2024, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Biden is headed to New York for a fundraiser. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden, second from left, boards Air Force One, March 28, 2024, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Biden is headed to New York for a fundraiser. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., April 12, 2024, enroute to New Castle, Del. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., April 12, 2024, enroute to New Castle, Del. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., March 11, 2024, to travel to Manchester, N.H. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., March 11, 2024, to travel to Manchester, N.H. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One, March 13, 2024, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. en route to Milwaukee. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One, March 13, 2024, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. en route to Milwaukee. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, March 21, 2024, in Dallas, en route to Houston. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, March 21, 2024, in Dallas, en route to Houston. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden, center right, and first lady Jill Biden, center left, walk off Air Force One, March 29, 2024, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden, center right, and first lady Jill Biden, center left, walk off Air Force One, March 29, 2024, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One, March 11, 2024, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez, File)

FILE - President Joe Biden boards Air Force One, March 11, 2024, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. The White House and the Democratic National Committee are splitting the cost of Biden’s travel while he runs for a second term. It’s part of a longstanding arrangement that prevents taxpayers from being stuck with the full bill for political trips. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez, File)

Next Article

Australia and New Zealand begin evacuating nationals from unrest in New Caledonia

2024-05-21 16:06 Last Updated At:16:10

NEWCASTLE, Australia (AP) — Australia and New Zealand sent airplanes to New Caledonia on Tuesday to begin bringing home stranded citizens from the violence-wracked French South Pacific territory.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Australia had received clearance from French authorities for two flights to evacuate citizens from the archipelago, where indigenous people have long sought independence from France.

Hours later, a Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules touched down in Noumea, the capital. The plane can carry 124 passengers, according to the Defense Department.

“We continue to work on further flights,” Wong wrote on the social media platform X on Tuesday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said 300 Australians were in New Caledonia. It did not immediately confirm whether the Australian-organized flights would also evacuate other stranded foreign nationals, believed to number in the thousands.

New Zealand's government also announced that it had sent a plane to New Caledonia to begin evacuating about 50 of its citizens.

“New Zealanders in New Caledonia have faced a challenging few days — and bringing them home has been an urgent priority for the government,” Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said. “In cooperation with France and Australia, we are working on subsequent flights in coming days.”

Noumea’s international airport remains closed to commercial flights. Its reopening will be reassessed on Thursday.

At least six people have died and hundreds more have been injured since violence erupted last week in New Caledonia following controversial electoral reforms passed in Paris.

About 270 suspected rioters have been arrested as of Tuesday, and a 6 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew is in effect for the archipelago of about 270,000 people, which is a popular tourist destination with its idyllic beaches and climate.

France has sent in over a thousand security personnel, with hundreds more due to arrive Tuesday, to try to quell the unrest and restore control.

Armed clashes, looting, arson and other violence turned parts of Noumea into no-go zones. Columns of smoke billowed into the sky, hulks of burned cars littered roads, businesses and shops were ransacked and buildings became smoking ruins.

There have been decades of tensions between indigenous Kanaks who are seeking independence and descendants of colonizers who want to remain part of France.

The unrest erupted May 13 as the French legislature in Paris debated amending the French Constitution to make changes to New Caledonia voter lists. The National Assembly in Paris approved a bill that would, among other changes, allow residents who have lived in New Caledonia for 10 years to cast ballots in provincial elections.

Opponents fear the measure will benefit pro-France politicians in New Caledonia and further marginalize Kanaks who once suffered from strict segregation policies and widespread discrimination.

A RNZAF Hercules C-130 takes off from Whenuapai airbase near Auckland, New Zealand, bound for Noumea, New Caledonia, on a mercy mission to rescue stranded New Zealand tourists, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The Australian and New Zealand governments say they are sending planes to evacuate their nationals from violence-scorched New Caledonia. (Michael Craig/NZ Herald via AP)

A RNZAF Hercules C-130 takes off from Whenuapai airbase near Auckland, New Zealand, bound for Noumea, New Caledonia, on a mercy mission to rescue stranded New Zealand tourists, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The Australian and New Zealand governments say they are sending planes to evacuate their nationals from violence-scorched New Caledonia. (Michael Craig/NZ Herald via AP)

Burnt cars are lined up after unrest that erupted following protests over voting reforms in Noumea, New Caledonia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Nicolas Job)

Burnt cars are lined up after unrest that erupted following protests over voting reforms in Noumea, New Caledonia, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Nicolas Job)

A RNZAF Hercules C-130 takes off from Whenuapai airbase near Auckland, New Zealand, bound for Noumea, New Caledonia, on a mercy mission to rescue stranded New Zealand tourists, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The Australian and New Zealand governments say they are sending planes to evacuate their nationals from violence-scorched New Caledonia. (Michael Craig/NZ Herald via AP)

A RNZAF Hercules C-130 takes off from Whenuapai airbase near Auckland, New Zealand, bound for Noumea, New Caledonia, on a mercy mission to rescue stranded New Zealand tourists, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The Australian and New Zealand governments say they are sending planes to evacuate their nationals from violence-scorched New Caledonia. (Michael Craig/NZ Herald via AP)

France's President Emmanuel Macron, 2nd right, chairs a security and defence council at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, May 20, 2024. French security forces are working to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French Pacific archipelago where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (Benoit Tessier, Pool via AP)

France's President Emmanuel Macron, 2nd right, chairs a security and defence council at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Monday, May 20, 2024. French security forces are working to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French Pacific archipelago where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (Benoit Tessier, Pool via AP)

FILE - This handout photo provided by the French Army shows security force embarking a plane to New Caledonia at the Istres military base, southern France, on Thursday, May 16, 2024. Using backhoes to shove aside charred vehicles, French security forces worked Sunday, May 19, 2024, to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French South Pacific island where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (Etat Major des Armees via AP, File)

FILE - This handout photo provided by the French Army shows security force embarking a plane to New Caledonia at the Istres military base, southern France, on Thursday, May 16, 2024. Using backhoes to shove aside charred vehicles, French security forces worked Sunday, May 19, 2024, to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French South Pacific island where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (Etat Major des Armees via AP, File)

The French territory of New Caledonia has been rocked by deadly unrest, leading to a state of emergency imposed by Paris. (AP Graphic)

The French territory of New Caledonia has been rocked by deadly unrest, leading to a state of emergency imposed by Paris. (AP Graphic)

FILE - Smoke rises during protests in Noumea, New Caledonia, Wednesday May 15, 2024. Using backhoes to shove aside charred vehicles, French security forces worked Sunday, May 19, 2024, to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French South Pacific island where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (AP Photo/Nicolas Job, File)

FILE - Smoke rises during protests in Noumea, New Caledonia, Wednesday May 15, 2024. Using backhoes to shove aside charred vehicles, French security forces worked Sunday, May 19, 2024, to retake control of the highway to the international airport in violence-scorched New Caledonia, shuttered because of deadly unrest wracking the French South Pacific island where indigenous people have long sought independence from France. (AP Photo/Nicolas Job, File)

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