On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted French President François Hollande for an official state dinner at the White House.
It was the seventh such dinner for this administration and part of a larger trip that included a joint press conference as well as visits to Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, and Arlington National Cemetery.
“It is the highest form of honor that we could extend by our country to another,” said Anita McBride, former chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush and current executive-in-residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies in the School of Public Affairs at American University. “It signifies the important of a relationship and the personal ties and connection that our countries have to another.”
According to CBS News, the cost of five of the last six official state dinners have been between $203,000 for the October 2011 dinner for the President of South Korea to $572,000 for the November 2009 dinner for the Prime Minister of India.
Congress appropriates money to the U.S. Department of State for these state visits. In 2012, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) for a detailed list of these costs and expenses. According to Issa, the State Department didn’t respond.