Belfast, Ireland – Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle and their daughters Malia (14) and Sasha (12) have touched down in Belfast this morning. The President is due to attend the G8 summit in Fermanagh, but his wife and daughters are to head south of the border this morning.
The President is due to attend the G8 summit in Fermanagh, but his wife and daughters are to head south of the border this morning.
Meanwhile, a mini army of Shelbourne Hotel staff were giving the front facade of the famous old building a final wipedown – as gardai and American Secret Service agents hovered in the background.
Nothing was being left to chance – it was all hands on deck for the arrival of yet another famous visitor. This time it’s Michelle Obama, the wife of US President Barack Obama.
She will be staying in the hotel – along with their daughters Malia (14) and Sasha (12) – while her husband discusses global affairs at the G8 summit about 160km up the road in deepest Fermanagh.
But yesterday afternoon both Shelbourne management and staff were staying strictly mum as the countdown to the arrival of its most famous guest in recent years got under way.
A number of gardai were strategically placed at the front and sides of the hotel.
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President Obama is under fire for the price of the first family’s upcoming week long trip to Africa, which could cost taxpayers as much as $100 million at a time of federal budget cuts and furloughs.
The Obamas’ trip will take them to Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa from June 26 to July 3. The excursion will involve military cargo planes airlifting 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines, and three trucks to carry bulletproof glass panels to cover the windows where the family is set to stay.
One estimate of the cost has pegged the bill to U.S. taxpayers at somewhere between $60 million and $100 million.
A House lawmaker said rather than spend $100 million on a trip to Africa, the administration should instead fund public tours of the White House that were canceled under the “sequestration” budget cuts.
“For the cost of this trip to Africa, you could have 1,350 weeks of White House tours, which the White House has canceled indefinitely due to budget constraints,” Rep. George Holding, North Carolina Republican, said on the House floor Friday.
Mr. Holding said with the country more than $16 trillion in debt, the administration should not be spending so much money on an eight-day visit to Africa.
President Obama and his family will be going to Africa later this month. But the trip won’t be cheap; it’s expected to cost American taxpayers $60 to $100 million, according to the Washington Post.
“When President Obama makes his first extended trip to sub-Saharan Africa later this month, the federal agencies charged with keeping him safe won’t be taking any chances. Hundreds of U.S. Secret Service agents will be dispatched to secure facilities in Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. A Navy aircraft carrier or amphibious ship, with a fully staffed medical trauma center, will be stationed offshore in case of emergency,” reports the Post.
“Military cargo planes will airlift in 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and three trucks loaded with sheets of bullet-proof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the first family will stay. Fighter jets will fly in shifts giving 24-hour coverage over the president’s airspace so they can intervene quickly if an errant plane gets too close.
“The extraordinary security provisions — which will cost the government tens of millions of dollars — are outlined in a confidential internal planning document obtained by The Washington Post. While the preparations appear to be in line with similar travels in the past, the document offers an unusual glimpse into the colossal efforts to protect the U.S. commander-in-chief on trips abroad.”
The House Committee on the Judiciary reported Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) traveled around the world on an official trip in February that cost $23,646. The February 16-22 trip on commercial flights was to Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee did not travel over or back with CODEL Landrieu that included several members of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption. The delegation was to meet with local community leaders, adoption officials, and other government officials, such as the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee took commercial flights over and caught up with the delegation in Seoul, South Korea. After visiting South Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia she then left the delegation early for her return commercial fight through Frankfurt Germany.
The trip costs included $19,970 for transportation, $1,292 for per-diem, and $2,385 for other purposes.