US president Barack Obama will delay his trip to Asia and Australia and there is a possibility he could cancel the trip altogether.
It all rests on the fate of Mr Obama’s healthcare reform.
The president was due to leave Washington late next week, travelling to Guam, Indonesia and Australia.
His spokesman Robert Gibbs says that is still the itinerary.
“We can’t lead in this region of the world without string bilateral relationships with Indonesia and Australia,” he said.
“They’re key in our ability to grow our country economy through increases export, and they’re key to tackling big challenges.”
The White House has portrayed this trip as an important moment for the president’s foreign policy agenda and just yesterday indicated there would be no delay.
But health care is more important for the president right now and the chances of a house vote by the White House deadline of March 18 appear unrealistic.
“We’ve been talking about this for more than a year,” Mr Gibbs said.
“I think the president wants – members of congress want – a vote as soon as possible that will lead to improved health care for millions of Americans.
“I will leave deadlines up to the speaker.”
Mr Obama met with Democrat leaders who agreed that the trip was important because of the large Muslim population in Indonesia and the important trading and defence ties with Australia.
Ron Brownstein, who writes for the Atlantic and National journal thinks there is still a possibility the trip could be cancelled.
“There’s no confusion in the White House about what the stakes are in this vote, not only in the historic sense of pursuing healthcare reform, which has defeated every president who has attempted it for 70 years, but also the broader implications for his presidency, for his ability to drive forward an agenda they understand,” he said.
“If they fail on this vote, their capacity to move forward on other issues is going to be severely diminished as well.”
Commentators were already suggesting his decision to take his family would require some skilful spin from the White House PR team.
Mr Gibbs says the changes to the itinerary meant the president’s daughters would miss school, so the decision was made to leave them at home.
Walter Lohman from the conservative think-tank The Heritage Foundation says there is nothing wrong with planning a trip where there is no concrete agreements to be signed or issues that must be resolved immediately.
“He is going to Bali,” he said. “It’s not exactly hardship duty, so he’ll have to limit the number of shots he takes from the beach.
“I think it’s fine for it to be largely symbolic. He’s got to start somewhere and that’s where he needs to start.
“I think putting too much pressure, especially on the Indonesia part of this, to come back with deliverables would be a mistake.”
The foundation’s Ted Bromund says the president needs to work on developing the kind of closeness George W Bush shared with some leaders.
“In addition to broader national and White House perspectives, if this trip leads to the creation of stronger personal relationships – which are a tremendous assistance in diplomacy – between the US and Australia and US and Indonesia, I think that would be all for the good,” he said.
The White House is yet to say whether the delay will affect the timing of his speech to the Australian Parliament, which is scheduled for Tuesday, March 23.
With the trip details still up in the air, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will just have to keep his diary flexible.