Vice President Pence takes off on trip to Middle East

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence has departed for the Middle East, despite the looming threat of a government shutdown.

Pence took off Friday night on a trip that will take him to Egypt, Jordan and Israel. He's scheduled to refuel in Ireland after midnight before proceeding to Cairo.

The vice president's spokeswoman had said Pence's trip would go forward because it is "integral" to U.S. national security and diplomacy.

President Donald Trump scrapped his plans to travel to Florida Friday as he worked to try to avert a shutdown. Congress must act by midnight or the shutdown will begin.