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Pence postpones trip to Middle East, citing tax vote

Pence postpones trip to Middle East, citing tax vote
© Greg Nash

Vice President Pence is delaying his planned trip to the Middle East until January as Congress prepares to vote on the GOP's tax bill.

Pence had planned to fly to Egypt Tuesday night and have a bilateral meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday before traveling to Israel and then Germany, according to reports.

The decision to postpone the trip comes after widespread outrage over President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US MORE's decision earlier this month to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

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A spokeswoman for Pence's office said the decision was made to ensure that the GOP tax-cut bill is passed successfully. 

“The largest tax cut in American history is a landmark accomplishment for President Trump and a relief to millions of hardworking Americans,” Pence’s press secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement.

“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," she said.

A White House official maintained that the tax vote is the sole reason for moving Pence's trip back, emphasizing that the "reaction in the Middle East to the President's Jerusalem decision did not play a factor in the decision to delay the trip."

Pence now is expected fly to the Middle East during the week of Jan. 14, The Washington Post reported, citing senior White House officials.

The vice president could be the tie-breaking vote in the Senate if Republicans are not able to garner enough support for the bill, although it appeared on Monday they had the votes after Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns Susan Collins and the mob mentality Graham: I hope Dems 'get their ass kicked' for conduct around Kavanaugh MORE (R-Maine) announced she would vote "yes."

World leaders like British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the Trump administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem, calling it "unhelpful" to the delicate peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced earlier this month he would not meet with Pence in light of the decision, as did other regional leaders.

— Updated: 6:59 p.m.