Senate Fails to Vote on International Religious Freedom Ambassador Nominee

Senators did not vote on Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s nomination as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom after Democrats blocked the confirmation vote from coming to Senate. Democrats did that due to concerns over Brownback’s revocation of an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBT government workers in Kansas, CBN News reported.

Brownback was nominated by Trump in July after David Saperstein stepped down in January. Now his nomination has to go back to the White House and be resubmitted by Trump, who could renominate him or nominate another person.

The ambassador runs the State Department’s office which promotes religious freedom through foreign policy, CBN explains. If he gets the confirmation, Brownback and his team would be in charge of investigations related to religious freedom violations around the world and he would have to make an annual report about those violations.

Brownback delivered a farewell address and handed off gubernatorial budgetary and personnel decisions to Jeff Colyer, but if his nomination is not resubmitted by the White House and voted on by the Senate before January 9th, Brownback will still be governor. In that way, he would be required to deliver the annual State of the State speech to the Kansas State Legislature.

Brownback was praised as a consistent defender of religious freedom by members of Congress and Christians around the world. He was one of those instrumental in pushing the passage of The International Religious Freedom Act which President Bill Clinton signed into law in October 1998.

Elijah Brown, executive vice president of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative and general secretary-elect of the Baptist World Alliance, said that he is disappointed by the Senate’s inaction.

“At a time when 500,000 Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee from Myanmar as refugees in what the State Department has declared ‘ethnic cleansing, to use just one example, this position ought to be seen as a priority. In fact, the office of the ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom has never been more pressing. It is my hope that nomination and confirmation could occur quickly in early 2018. Ideally, this would be finalized by the 2018 National Prayer Breakfast on February 8,” Brown said.

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