Mike Pence reschedules Middle East visit for January
- Author: Tracy Klein Dec 21, 2017,
Dec 21, 2017, 1:00
Senior White House officials said the uncertainty of the timing of the Senate vote could have pushed back Pence's schedule in Egypt and Israel, and the vice president felt it was important to be in the Senate in case he was needed to break a tie vote.
But White House officials said any delay in the tax vote might have prevented the vice president from departing Washington on time and complicated a tightly-orchestrated set of meetings in Egypt and Israel. The Republicans' already thin margin in the Senate became even more precarious when McCain, who is battling brain cancer, was hospitalized for side effects of his treatment.
Having failed to clear a series of legislative hurdles, the package is seen as key to Trump's ability to secure support among his base and skittish political donors. His office said in a statement, "The largest tax cut in American history is a landmark accomplishment for President Trump and a relief to millions of hardworking Americans...." Now that the vote could come either late Tuesday or early Wednesday, the official said they had chose to move the trip to the week of January 14 to have more time in the region and to possibly meet with more leaders. "The United States has crossed all the red lines with the Jerusalem decision".
The announcement comes amid outrage over the USA move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, though officials say the delay is not due to the Jerusalem decision.
The move outraged Palestinians, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, canceled a meeting scheduled with Pence in protest. Abbas had originally planned to host Pence, a devout Christian, in the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem.
The announcement from Pence's office came on the same day the U.S. vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution that would have rejected "decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem". "The vice president looks forward to travelling to Egypt and Israel in January". While they have not yet rescheduled his meetings, officials said that they hope the vice president will be able to keep all of his original appointments and perhaps visit additional countries in the region.