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Mike Pence delays Israel, Egypt trip as tax vote nears

Vice President Mike Pence, who was scheduled to travel Tuesday to Egypt and Israel, is postponing his trip until next...

Posted: Dec 19, 2017 9:38 AM
Updated: Dec 19, 2017 9:38 AM

Vice President Mike Pence, who was scheduled to travel Tuesday to Egypt and Israel, is postponing his trip until next month.

Pence's office said it decided to delay the trip to ensure Senate passage of the GOP tax bill, which is likely to keep the vice president in Washington past his scheduled Tuesday night departure.

Pence was slated to travel to the Middle East this week

He will remain in Washington as the Senate prepares to vote on Trump's tax cut measure

His vote may not be needed however

"The largest tax cut in American history is a landmark accomplishment for President Trump and a relief to millions of hardworking Americans," Pence press secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement. "The vice president is committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line.

Pence is now expected to leave for Egypt, Israel and potentially additional countries in the region the week of January 14, senior White House officials said, though the revised trip is still being planned.

A White House official said that while the tax vote is still in "very good shape," Pence -- who can serve as a tiebreaking vote in the Senate -- does not want to take any chances, especially in light of Sen. John McCain's expected absence due to health issues.

The trip was also slated to take place as Palestinians continue to protest President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, though the White House officials insisted the unrest and security concerns were not a reason for the postponement.

The officials said a later departure could have left the Vice President meeting late at night on Wednesday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and with only a few events possible in Israel before Shabbat on Saturday.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas canceled his scheduled meeting with Pence in the wake of the Jerusalem announcement, as did the top Muslim and Coptic Christian leaders in Egypt.

A senior White House official declined to say whether Pence would seek to put his meeting back on the books with Abbas, who has said the US should no longer be involved in the peace process, in light of the postponement.

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