Published: Tue, December 19, 2017
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Mike Pence delays Israel, Egypt trip as tax vote nears

Mike Pence delays Israel, Egypt trip as tax vote nears

US Vice President Mike Pence is postponing his trip to Egypt and Israel this week in order to stay in Washington for a congressional vote on President Donald Trump's tax overhaul plan, White House officials said on Monday.

"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.

Pence, a strong supporter of Trump's decision, was to spend three days in the region with stops in Israel and Egypt, the first high-level official to visit after the president reversed decades of U.S. policy and announced the United States would start the process of moving its embassy from Tel Aviv.

The fallout continued Monday as the United States vetoed a draft UN resolution rejecting Trump's Jerusalem move, after all 14 other Security Council members - including allies like Britain - voted for the measure.

Mr. Trump said that he had made a decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital to keep a campaign promise, noting that several of his predecessors had vowed to do so, but never did.

Pence was scheduled to leave Tuesday, arriving in Egypt on Wednesday for a bilateral meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sissi.

Mr Pence's original itinerary when the trip was planned last month was to meet Christian and Muslim leaders in the region. "The United States has crossed all the red lines with the Jerusalem decision". Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also refused a meeting with Pence.

On Thursday, White House announced that Pence would delay his trip by three days and shorten his itinerary.

Palestinians walk on a poster bearing images of US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the al-Quds Open University in the West Bank village of Dura, on December 13, 2017.

With the Senate vote now expected late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, White House officials said Monday that Pence's trip could not be shortened or delayed any further, so they chose to postpone.

The House of Representatives was due to vote first at around 1:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) on Tuesday, according to Republican aides, while the Senate vote is expected to follow either later on Tuesday or on Wednesday.

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