Topeka Last week Sam Brownback tended to business in Kansas; but this week, he’s starting out in Washington, D.C.
That’s the schedule for someone who is both governor-elect and still a member of the U.S. Senate.
Brownback, a Republican, will be sworn into his new office Jan. 10. He is currently transitioning to the governor’s job, filling out his Cabinet and preparing a state budget for the start of the 2011 legislative session.
Last week was Topeka time.
On Tuesday, he held a news conference to introduce his economic team, which included five Cabinet appointees and his new budget director. On Wednesday, he was seen going into meetings with his transition staff, and, on Friday, another news conference in the Statehouse announcing key appointments.
“Lots of moving parts,” he said.
Meanwhile in Washington, the legislative wheeling and dealing was in overdrive. Brownback’s colleagues in the Senate were working on several issues on the national level. For instance, on Thursday there was a key vote in the Senate on whether to allow gays to serve openly in the military and repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Brownback, who opposes repeal of the policy, wasn’t there, but his vote wasn’t needed to block consideration of the repeal.
Brownback’s staff said he would return to Washington, D.C., today.
Additional issues in play before the “lame-duck” Congress include a tax cut, unemployment benefits compromise between President Barack Obama and Republicans, ratification of a nuclear treaty with Russia, and consideration of the so-called Dream Act, which would grant hundreds of thousands of undocumented residents brought to the United States as children a chance to gain legal status if they enroll in college or join the military.
Brownback, once a sponsor of the Dream Act, said he no longer supports it but instead says the United States needs to secure its southern border.
On other issues, his Senate spokesman, Brian Hart, declined to say how Brownback would vote, noting that legislation changes quickly toward the end of the congressional session and often gets paired up with unrelated bills.