Pence Delays Middle East Trip With Tax Vote Looming

Tour rescheduled for January

Vice President Mike Pence waves walking through the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Vice President Mike Pence is delaying his trip to the Middle East until mid-January, a move that could allow tensions in the region to cool after President Donald Trump angered Muslim leaders by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcing his intention to move the U.S. embassy there.

Pence aides are describing the delay as, in part, intended to allow the vice president to remain in Washington to preside over the Senate’s vote on a sweeping tax overhaul bill.

Pence was slated to depart Tuesday for Egypt. But that plan was complicated by the timeline for tax votes. The Senate must complete 10 hours of debate on the measure once it arrives after House passage.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Monday that means the chamber might not vote on the tax bill until Wednesday morning.

“The largest tax cut in American history is a landmark accomplishment for President Trump and a relief to millions of hardworking Americans. The vice president is committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line. The Vice President looks forward to traveling to Egypt and Israel in January,” Alyssa Farah, Pence’s press secretary said in an email.

While it appears the White House and Senate GOP leaders have the votes to pass the tax bill and send it to Trump’s desk, Pence will remain in Washington in case his vote is needed to break any surprise tie later this week.

The vice president is expected to travel to the Middle East in mid-January.

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