Politics & Government

Ambassadorship that Brownback may assume set to expand

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback may take over as ambassador for international religious freedom as the office is growing, under a reorganization plan.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback may take over as ambassador for international religious freedom as the office is growing, under a reorganization plan. File photo

Gov. Sam Brownback may become the U.S. ambassador for international religious freedom as the position is set to grow in scope.

The ambassadorship will absorb four other diplomatic offices, under a reorganization plan sent to Congress this week by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The ambassador for international religious freedom would assume the staff and functions of a special advisor for religious minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia, a special representative for religion and global affairs, a special representative to Muslim communities and a special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The ambassadorship would gain 16 staffers and about $1.7 million in additional funding, according to a letter from Tillerson. Politico posted a copy of the letter.

The office already has a staff of about 25 and a budget of about $6 million.

Brownback as its head would be responsible for publishing an annual report on religious freedom in virtually every country in the world, along with a list of the countries that are the world’s worst abusers.

President Trump nominated Brownback to the position in July. The U.S. Senate must confirm him to the position and there is no set timeline for when that may happen. There has been no sign of opposition to Brownback’s nomination.

A spokeswoman for Brownback directed a request for comment to the State Department. An agency spokesperson said the position would continue to be Senate-confirmable.

“I believe that the Department will be able to better execute its mission by integrating certain envoys and special representative offices within the regional and functional bureaus, and eliminating those that have accomplished or outlived their original purpose,” Tillerson said in the letter.

Contributing: Bryan Lowry and Lindsay Wise of the Kansas City Star

Jonathan Shorman: 785-296-3006, @jonshorman

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