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Trump re-nominates Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as religious freedom ambassador

(Reuters/Joshua Roberts)Republican Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas, speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., February 23, 2017.

President Donald Trump has re-nominated Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as the ambassador-at-large for religious freedom on Monday after the Senate failed to confirm him for the position before the end of 2017.

Brownback had been nominated for the post in July but did not get a confirmation vote in the Senate due to resistance from Democrats who questioned his record on LGBT rights.

The delay on Brownback's confirmation had triggered a Senate rule that requires senators to agree unanimously to continue considering nominees at the end of the year.

Following his re-nomination, Brownback thanked Trump in a tweet and stressed that he will continue serving as governor until he is confirmed by the Senate.

"Thank you @POTUS for re-nominating me to be Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. I will continue to serve as Governor until confirmed," he wrote.

If confirmed, Brownback will be responsible for "monitor[ing] religious persecution and discrimination worldwide," and he will be expected to develop programs and execute policies that will encourage religious freedom.

The Kansas governor is one of several officials who were not confirmed by the Senate by the end of the last Senate session after Democrats refused to allow their nominations to roll over into the new year.

Brownback had already handed off responsibilities to Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer last fall when he thought that he was nearing confirmation. Colyer was allowed to take the lead on developing the budget proposal and was also allowed to announce a new cabinet appointment, according to The Kansas City Star.

Last month, some Republican senators have expressed concern about the delay on Brownback's confirmation.

"Obviously he would be an excellent person to do the job that he's been asked to do. He's kind of created a lame duck situation back home in Kansas so we need to get it done. I think it's just one more example unfortunately of the Senate just kind of jamming things and slowing the process down," said Rep. Roger Marshall, a freshman Republican from western Kansas.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said that the nominations as a whole have slowed down because "we are facing across the board Democratic filibusters and delays."

"The ambassador for religious (freedom) is an important position and it needs to be filled and my hope is that Gov. Brownback will be confirmed sooner rather than later," he added.

During a confirmation hearing in October, former U.S. representative and respected religious freedom advocate, Frank Wolf, expressed support for Brownback and his pursuit of international religious freedom.

Brownback's nomination was also supported by Randel Everett, founding president of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative; and Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Before being elected as governor, Brownback had served in the U.S. Senate between 1996 and 2011. During that time, he co-sponsored the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 and served as co-chair of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.

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