U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is delaying his visit to the Middle East, the White House said Monday, amid a crunch tax vote on Capitol Hill and protests in the region.
The trip to Egypt and Israel, due to begin Tuesday, has been pushed back to mid-January, allowing Pence to remain in Washington in case he needs to break a tie vote in the Senate over President Donald Trump's tax reforms.
"The tax vote is still in very good shape, but we don't want to take any chances whatsoever," said a senior administration official, according to AFP.
Having failed to clear a series of legislative hurdles, the package is seen as key to Trump securing support among his base and skittish political donors.
"We have some senators who obviously can't make it there for the vote and the Vice President feels that it's important for him to be here for the largest tax cut in history," the official said.
The Senate is now expected to vote on the package on Tuesday or in the early hours of Wednesday.
Officials denied that Pence's decision was motivated by a wave of protests in the wake of President Donald Trump's decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
The visit had already once been delayed by several days so that the Vice President could participate in the Senate's vote on the proposed tax reforms.
Pence had been expected to visit the Western Wall and speak in the Knesset.
Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas had announced he would not meet with Pence, in protest of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem.
Israel's Arab MKs similarly announced that they would boycott Pence's Knesset address.