Pence delays trip to Middle East
By Jenna Johnson | Washington Post
WASHINGTON – The White House announced Monday that Vice President Mike Pence is delaying a planned trip to the Middle East in case his vote is needed to pass tax legislation – a move that aslo comes amid uproar over the Trump administration’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Pence was scheduled to leave Tuesday, arriving in Egypt on Wednesday for a bilateral meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sissi. From there he was scheduled to visit Israel before traveling to Germany to meet with U.S. troops stationed there.
Pence’s office said Monday the trip was being delayed so he can stay in Washington until votes on the tax cut legislation are completed. He is now expected to travel to the Middle East during the week of Jan. 14, according to senior White House officials.
“The largest tax cut in American history is a landmark accomplishment for President Trump and a relief to millions of hardworking Americans,” said Pence’s press secretary Alyssa Farah. “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.”
Pence would potentially have to break a tie vote in the Senate on the tax bill, but that scenario become more remote on Monday after Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced her support for the bill.
The vice president’s trip has been complicated due to the uproar in the Middle East over President Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Earlier this month Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not meet with Pence on his trip due to this announcement.
The Jerusalem decision – which also included eventually moving the U.S. Embassy there – also sparked widespread opposition among Christians in the Middle East and complicated another aspect of Pence’s trip. The pope of the Egyptian Coptic church, who leads the largest Christian denomination in the Middle East, also canceled his planned meeting in Cairo with the vice president.