In July, President Donald Trump nominated Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to be our country’s next ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
More than four months later, the U.S. Senate has yet to hold a confirmation vote.
It’s simply unacceptable that the political wranglings of Washington, D.C., have left the government and the people of Kansas in limbo this long. It’s time for the Senate to hold a vote to settle the matter.
Kansas has serious business to attend to, and it’s not getting the attention it needs as long as Brownback, a Republican, has one foot out of the governor’s office and his replacement, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, has one foot in the governor’s office.
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Brownback has largely turned the reins of Kansas government over to Colyer, who is preparing a budget, a job normally done by the governor. Colyer has also appointed a new head of the Department of Children and Families, a decision normally made by the governor.
But the fact is, Brownback is still the governor, which limits what Colyer can do. It also causes political disruption, as some say Brownback should make the decisions assigned to his office as long as he legally holds the title.
Kansas faces many critical issues that need the full attention of our governor. They include a school funding shortage identified by the State Supreme Court, problems with KanCare, dysfunction within the Department of Children and Families, unrest in our prison system and more.
Brownback was in Washington this week in an effort to move the nomination process forward. He and Sen. Pat Roberts met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Brownback didn’t provide details about his meetings.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Brownback’s nomination in October by a vote of 11-10 that fell along party lines. Brownback faced questions from Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, about an executive order he signed in 2015 that rescinded protection for state workers from being discriminated against or harassed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Brownback said he believed such an order, put in place by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, should have come from the legislature. In a written response to questions from Democrats Brownback said, “Violence or persecution in the name of religion against members of the LGBT community is wrong, as is persecution or violence based on gender, race, faith, age, national origin or disability.”
A Democratic aide told The Kansas City Star in October that Democrats would force delays in the nomination process. But this week Democrats said they had not put any holds on a vote.
Brownback needs 51 votes to be confirmed. Republicans hold 52 of the Senate’s seats, which bodes well for a favorable vote for Brownback.
We don’t know what is going on behind the scenes in Washington. But we do know this: It is hurting the people of Kansas.
A vote on Brownback’s nomination should be scheduled now. Kansas deserves nothing less.