Despite a looming government shutdown, Vice President Mike Pence, the President of the U.S. Senate, took off for a trip to Egypt, Jordan, and Israel on Friday night.
The Vice President’s office released a statement on Friday morning that Pence would leave for the trip, as scheduled:
STATEMENT FROM THE OFFICE OF THE @VP: “the Vice President’s meetings with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, & Israel are integral to America’s national security & diplomatic objectives, therefore the VP will travel to the Middle East as scheduled.”
— Alyssa Farah (@VPPressSec) January 19, 2018
The trip was initially planned to take place shortly after President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem the capitol of Israel and that he plans to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Pence’s Middle East trip was later rescheduled to mid-January as the White House worked with Capitol Hill to pass massive tax cut legislation.
As of 7:36 p.m. ET on Friday, Air Force Two was rolling down the Joint Base Andrews tarmac with Pence, second lady Karen Pence, members of his staff, and members of the media aboard. After a refueling stop in Shannon, Ireland, Pence is scheduled to land in Cairo, Egypt.
The Vice President also serves as President of the U.S. Senate and has the ability to cast a vote. Pence has already cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate during his first year in office.
President Trump canceled plans to travel to Mar-a-Lago on Friday as the shutdown battle carried on. He vowed to remain in Washington, DC until the shutdown was remedied.
Trump called Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to the White House on Friday afternoon to discuss avoiding a government shutdown. Schumer told reporters after talking with Trump that they were making progress, but still did not have a deal.
As of 7:01 p.m. ET the Senate scheduled a vote for 10:00 p.m. ET. Sixty votes are needed to pass a continuing resolution that would keep the government open past midnight. A few Democrats have since announced they plan to break with the majority of Senate Democrats and vote for the funding bill that was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.
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