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Brownback pushes Senate to confirm him as ambassador for religious liberty

Lesley Clark, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback worked Capitol Hill on Wednesday in an effort to get his stalled nomination as ambassador for religious liberty moving through a recalcitrant Congress.

Brownback, who told reporters last week he was hoping for a vote on his confirmation by Christmas, huddled with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Brownback's would-be Sherpa, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said he was "very" confident a vote would soon be scheduled. Roberts added he planned to talk with his "good friend" Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

"Gov. Brownback is the right man for this particular job, it's been a passion of his for as long as I've known him and he will make an excellent ambassador," said Roberts, who accompanied Brownback to his meeting with McConnell.

President Donald Trump in July nominated Brownback to serve as the next ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, but the confirmation has stalled in the Senate, posing an awkward situation for the would-be former governor and the state. McConnell's office had no update on his status and Democrats say they have not put any holds on Brownback's confirmation.

Brownback said he couldn't talk about the confirmation process, but said he was "excited" about serving, citing the situation in Burma where the minority Rohingya Muslims have been subject to mass slaughter and persecution.

 

The former senator, who appeared at the Capitol as Senate Republicans discussed their tax bill behind closed doors, did take a chance to hit back at Democratic critics who have pointed to his record on taxes as a cautionary tale.

Senate Democrats earlier this month held a hearing to draw national attention to the political and financial mess they say Brownback's controversial experiment in supply-side tax cuts created in Kansas.

"They're false statements on their part," Brownback said. He said his tax cuts were aimed at creating more small businesses and private sector jobs.

"It did both those things," he said. "We had record number of small businesses, we hit record private sector employment."

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