Gov. Sam Brownback had a job interview this morning. As President Trump’s nominee for the U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, Brownback testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a confirmation hearing for the role.
Brownback told committee members that he often worked with religious refugees as a former member of the U.S. Senate and helped refugees resettle in Kansas as Governor.
“I think we should accept people who are fleeing religious persecution,” the Governor said in answer to a question over whether the U.S. should accept Muslim refugees.
The media, however, is focusing on an exchange between Brownback and former Vice Presidential nominee, Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat.
Kaine asked about revoking an executive order that banned state employers from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
“That was an order that created a right by the executive branch that wasn’t available to other people and that wasn’t passed by the legislative branch,” Brownback said.
Brownback rescinded former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ executive order in 2015. Kaine quipped that he issued a similar executive order when he was Governor of Virginia.
Though media is focusing on Brownback’s decision to revoke the order, so far, no one has listed a single instance in which someone lost their jobs due to sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination in Kansas since 2015.
Brownback was also asked about his views on abortion. Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire asked if Brownback would use religion to deny women access to abortion as the ambassador to religious freedom.
Brownback said he would focus on religious freedom instead.
“I pledge to you to stay there, in my lane, on a bipartisan basis,” Brownback said.
The committee didn’t hint when Brownback’s nomination would be brought to the full Senate for a vote, but Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, called on his colleagues to swiftly approve Brownback’s nomination.
“Sam Brownback’s personal and professional commitment to religious freedom makes him an excellent choice to lead our nation’s efforts to promote religious tolerance and to fight against religious prosecution and discrimination,” Roberts said.
Brownback has said he will remain in office as Kansas Governor until he earns Senate confirmation. Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer will step into the role of Governor when and if that occurs.