No, this isn’t an item from The Onion. Vice President Joe Biden, who is the prime negotiator with Republicans over a new federal budget left yesterday for a tour of Finland, Russia and Moldova.  His trip will take him away from the United States for a week. The federal government will run out of money March 18.

At today’s meeting with journalists, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, was asked, “what do you think of (Vice President) Biden going overseas?  I mean here’s the head negotiator and he’s left for Russia for a week?  What does that say about the White House’s seriousness?”

Rep. Cantor replied, “I don’t think that they are serious by sending the dubbed “chief negotiator’ overseas.”

Biden was the main negotiator who succeeded in putting together the tax deal with Republicans last December. He met with party leaders from the Senate and House of Representatives on Capitol Hill last Thursday.

To laughter Cantor quipped, “Perhaps they have an interim chief negotiator.”