Brownback confirmed as religious freedom ambassador
by Evan Wilt
Posted 1/24/18, 06:24 pm
UPDATE: WASHINGTON—Vice President Mike Pence broke a tied Senate vote for the second time Wednesday to the complete the confirmation of Sam Brownback as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. The Senate originally scheduled Brownback’s final confirmation vote later this week but moved the vote up hours after Pence broke a tie to end debate. The ambassador position has been vacant since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017. All 49 Senate Democrats voted to block Brownback’s confirmation. Most cited his views on same-sex marriage and other LGBT issues as reasons they voted against him.
OUR EARLIER REPORT (4:56 p.m.): WASHINGTON—Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s nomination to fill the vacant ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom position nearly stalled Wednesday afternoon, requiring the vice president to break a tie vote. Senators voted 49-49 along party lines on a procedural vote to end debate on Brownback, a Republican. Vice President Mike Pence had to make an unplanned trip to the Senate floor to break the tie. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman tasked with overseeing the nomination, is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week and missed the floor vote. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was in Arizona Wednesday receiving cancer treatment and was unavailable for the vote. President Donald Trump nominated Brownback for the State Department position in July, and he received an endorsement from previous Ambassador-at-large David Saperstein, an Obama administration appointee. Saperstein, a Democrat, told me in October he disagreed with Brownback on many issues but not when it came to religious freedom. Brownback was one of more than 200 Trump nominees who did not receive a confirmation vote in 2017—requiring the White House to file the nomination with the Senate for a second time. A vote on Brownback’s final confirmation could occur as early as Wednesday evening.
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Evan is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Washington, D.C.