A U.S. Senate committee has given the green light for the full chamber to proceed with a vote on Gov. Sam Brownback’s confirmation to an ambassador-at-large position.
Approval by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the position relating to international religious freedom was the first hurdle after President Donald Trump picked Brownback for the role in July.
A spokesperson for the committee said the vote was 11-10 along party lines, with Republican members approving and Democrats opposed.
“I appreciate the work and support of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and thank them for voting on my nomination favorably,” Brownback said Thursday morning on Twitter.
A spokeswoman for the governor said his office does not know when the full Senate will vote on his confirmation. She said the governor did not have a comment on the development beyond his Twitter post.
I appreciate the work and support of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and thank them for voting on my nomination favorably. #Kansas #ksleg— Sam Brownback (@govsambrownback) October 26, 2017
If confirmed, Brownback will head the Office of International Religious Freedom within the State Department and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer will become Kansas governor.
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, on Thursday praised the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s vote.
“I am pleased the Foreign Relations Committee has approved Senator Brownback’s nomination,” Roberts said in an email via his spokeswoman, “and I urge my colleagues not to delay his confirmation by the full Senate so he may get to work fighting religious persecution around the world.”
At a news conference after his nomination was announced in July, the governor expressed deep concern about religious persecution, saying it struck him that he had taken communion earlier that day, but not everyone could do so as easily.
“Something that is simple and done by millions of Americans every day,” he said, “but that if other people do it in different parts of the world, they risk their lives.”
Asked at the time whether he had any concerns about the Trump administration’s willingness to pursue fair treatment around the world for non-Christians, Brownback said he did not.
“I know they’re interested in the issues of religious liberty and religious freedom,” he said of the Trump administration. “That’s been clearly communicated, and it’s for all faiths.”
The Trump administration has faced legal challenges and allegations of discrimination over a ban on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries.
Celia Llopis-Jepsen is a reporter for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach her on Twitter @Celia_LJ. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to kcur.org.