CLOSE

After months of debate, Congress has released a final tax reform bill. The bill eliminates some personal exemptions while increasing the standard deduction.
USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Vice President Pence has postponed his planned trip to the Middle East in order to stay in Washington for a final vote on the tax bill, the White House said Monday.

The vice president’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah, said Pence is “committed to seeing the tax cut through to the finish line” and plans to travel to Egypt and Israel in January instead.

As vice president, Pence presides over the Senate and would cast a tie-breaking vote in the case of a tie. Republicans control the chamber with 52 votes, but health problems of two GOP senators — John McCain of Arizona and Thad Cochran of Mississippi — could give leave the party with no room for error. 

Pence was scheduled to depart Tuesday, but the Senate vote will likely be Tuesday or Wednesday.

More: How soon after President Trump signs the tax bill could you see the effects?

More: Sen. John McCain returns to Arizona, will miss vote on tax bill

Pence’s Middle East mission has also become more difficult following President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. That move inflamed Palestinians and put a halt to the peace talks that Trump has tried to kick-start over the last 11 months. 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he will no longer agree to meet with Pence. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as their capital, and the United States had held off on the recognition of Jerusalem’s status for decades to allow the issue to be negotiated in a peace deal.

Pence was also scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and to deliver a speech to the Israeli Knesset.

Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2BGPs3F