The Secret Loser of the Spending Bill: Joe Biden

The appropriations package to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year includes a few unhappy provisions for the vice president.

Vice President Joe Biden frowns.
National Journal
Add to Briefcase
Marina Koren
Jan. 16, 2014, 10:26 a.m.

For Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden, the spend­ing bill mov­ing through Con­gress this week hits close to home. Spe­cific­ally, how he, the­or­et­ic­ally, pays for that home and how he gets there.

Bur­ied deep in the 1,582-page om­ni­bus ap­pro­pri­ations pack­age is le­gis­la­tion that en­acts a pay freeze for the vice pres­id­ent and “seni­or polit­ic­al ap­pointees” for fisc­al 2014. An­oth­er pro­vi­sion pulls fund­ing for high-speed-rail de­vel­op­ment, Biden’s pet pro­ject.

Be­fore the second fam­ily moved in­to No. 1 Ob­ser­vat­ory Circle, Biden took nightly 90-minute train rides to get home to Wilm­ing­ton, Del., from Wash­ing­ton. His com­mute garnered him the nick­name “Amtrak Joe” and a repu­ta­tion as “the na­tion’s most fam­ous Amtrak pas­sen­ger.” In 2011, he even had a train sta­tion in Wilm­ing­ton named after him.

Nat­ur­ally, Biden pushed for the rail­road ser­vice’s pro­posed Next Gen­er­a­tion High-Speed Rail, which would travel at 220 mph, bring­ing pas­sen­gers from Wash­ing­ton to New York in an hour and a half, and cost $117 bil­lion to con­struct. With the pro­ject likely shelved when the spend­ing bill passes the Sen­ate later this week, Biden will have to con­tend with his usu­al com­mute for trips back to Delaware for a while longer.

Janu­ary, it seems, has not very been kind to the veep so far.