First Lady Michelle Obama will be accompanied by her children and her mother on her trip to China, which begins today. But she won't be accompanied by the press.
"Michelle Obama’s trip to China starting on Wednesday will be nonpolitical, the White House says, a 'people-to-people exchange' emphasizing the importance that both nations place on education. As if to underscore the point, no reporters are traveling with the first lady, and she does not plan to give interviews while there," reports the New York Times.
The White House is defending the first lady bringing her family along for the ride by saying it's what the Chinese would want. "Tina Tchen, Mrs. Obama’s chief of staff and a first-generation Chinese-American, said a multigenerational visit would be appreciated by the Chinese, who value tradition," says the Times.
But in America, the trip is not without controversy. "Mrs. Obama is drawing scrutiny for her decision to travel with her mother and her two daughters, who are on spring break, bringing to mind a vacation she took to Spain in 2010 with her daughter Sasha and some friends. She and her entourage paid for their lodging and entertainment. But the security cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, and the trip was criticized as lavish.," reads the report.
"Some conservative commentators are calling the China trip a junket. The White House will not say how much it will cost."
Despite the government shutdown, Vice President Joe Biden is vacationing at Camp David this long weekend. He's joined at the Maryland retreat by his family, including his wife (Jill Biden), children, and grandchildren.
The vice president is also there with "essential" government workers, who must work despite the government shutdown. That includes his Secret Service detail, as well as the Secret Service details assigned to the rest of his family, and other support staff. They are protecting the Bidens as they vacation -- but aren't getting paid because of the federal shutdown.
President Obama delivered a short audio-only statement on Egypt this morning, from his rented-vacation home on Martha's Vineyard:
In the statement, President Obama cancelled a planned joint U.S.-Egypt military exercise and called for "Egyptian authorities to respect the universal rights of the people. We call on those who protest to do so peacefully."
Obama did not say that U.S. aid to Egypt would change.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attended a cocktail party this evening at the Martha's Vineyard home of National Public Radio host and special correspondent Michele Norris, according to the White House pool report. Norris's husband, Broderick Johnson, is a lobbyist who worked on Obama's 2012 reelection campaign.
In the first three months of the year, members of the first family have been on three vacations, averaging a vacation a month. And now it's being reported that the first daughters are on a spring break vacation in the Bahamas.
The White House confirms today that President Barack Obama will be vacationing in Florida this weekend. His wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, will be in Colorado. The two daughters will be with Michelle.
From the White House press gaggle aboard Air Force One:
President Barack Obama will vacation this weekend in Palm Beach.
"On Friday, February 15, the President will travel to the West Palm Beach area. There are no public events scheduled. Details on the departure of Air Force One will be released when available," the White House announced.