Pence delays Middle East trip for "tax bill vote"


US Vice President Mike Pence has delayed a visit to the Middle East for a second time, the White House said Monday, to focus on the tax vote on Capitol Hill.

Pence's visit was supposed to begin on Tuesday night, with a stop for a meeting with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo, followed by a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a visit to the Western Wall, and a speech at the Knesset. From there he was scheduled to visit Israel before traveling to Germany to meet with US troops stationed there. "The Vice President is committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line".

Photo Vice President Mike Pence might be needed to break a tie vote on tax overhaul legislation this week in the Senate.

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.

White House officials denied that Pence's decision was driven by the reaction in the Middle East to President Donald Trump's controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. But they can only afford to lose two votes.

Then Trump announced on December 6 that his administration had made a decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, breaking with decades of US policy and drawing sharp criticism from allies and adversaries.

Additionally, there have been widespread protests in the Arab world following the decision.

Earlier this month Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not meet with Pence on his trip due to this announcement. Republicans control the chamber with 52 votes, but health problems of two GOP senators - John McCain of Arizona and Thad Cochran of MS - could give leave the party with no room for error.