Vice President Mike Pence will delay his planned trip this week to the Middle East until mid-January, the White House announced Monday. Pence will stay in Washington, where there is a chance he could be called upon to cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate this week, to pass the GOP tax bill.
The postponement of Pence's trip also comes amid widespread outrage across the Middle East in response to President Donald Trump's decision earlier this month to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In a statement Monday, Pence's spokeswoman focused on the upcoming tax vote.
"The largest tax cut in American history is a landmark accomplishment for President Trump and a relief to millions of hardworking Americans," said the vice president's spokeswoman, Alyssa Farah, 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."
Pence's trip had originally been envisioned as a way for the Trump administration to draw attention to the ongoing persecution of Christians in the region, and to show solidarity with Christian communities ahead of the Christmas holiday.
But ever since Trump's Dec. 6 announcement about Jerusalem, America's role in the region has come under fire, and nowhere more so than in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
The Jerusalem decision has also drawn international condemnation, and prompted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to announce that he would not meet with Pence during the vice president's trip. Postponing the trip to January could provide the administration with time to repair some of its frayed regional alliances.