Pence delays Middle East trip in case vote needed on tax legislation

Pence delays Middle East trip in case vote needed on tax legislation
File photo: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrives before U.S. President Donald Trump and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speak at a joint statement at the White House in Washington, DC, U.S. October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vice President Mike Pence will delay an upcoming Middle East trip by a couple of days in case a tie-breaking vote is needed from him for tax cut legislation in Congress, a senior White House official said on Thursday.

Pence will now leave some time on Tuesday on a trip that will begin with a visit to Cairo for talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the official said.

He had initially planned to leave late on Saturday.

As vice president, Pence can cast a tie-breaking vote in the U.S. Senate, and with a close vote expected along party lines on the tax legislation, it was decided to keep him in the country just in case. Republican Senator John McCain, who is fighting brain cancer, was in hospital on Wednesday.

“We don’t expect his vote to be needed to be needed but we don’t want the scenario where he’s on the other side of the world and we have to come back,” the official said.

He is set to hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday in Jerusalem.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to meet with Pence in protest of President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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