Archive for Thursday, October 26, 2017

U.S. Senate panel narrowly backs Brownback for religious freedom post in Trump administration

In this July 27, 2017, file photo, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback talks to the media during a news conference in Topeka, Kan. The Republican-led Senate Foreign Relations Committee narrowly approved the nomination of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to be U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom on Thursday, Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

In this July 27, 2017, file photo, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback talks to the media during a news conference in Topeka, Kan. The Republican-led Senate Foreign Relations Committee narrowly approved the nomination of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to be U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom on Thursday, Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

October 26, 2017, 12:35 p.m. Updated October 26, 2017, 2:45 p.m.

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— A Senate panel narrowly approved the nomination of Sam Brownback to be U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom despite complaints from LGBT rights groups over the Kansas governor's views on same-sex marriage and gender identity.

On an 11-10 vote Thursday, the Foreign Relations Committee recommended that the full Senate consider President Donald Trump's selection of Brownback for the State Department post. The committee also approved several other Trump nominees for ambassadorships. Among them was Richard Grenell to be U.S. envoy to Germany. Grenell would be the first openly LGBT ambassador for Trump if he's confirmed.

Brownback thanked the committee in a tweet "for voting on my nomination favorably."

LGBT rights groups have decried Brownback's nomination because of his conservative views. During his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Brownback defended his decision as Kansas governor to scrap an executive order that barred discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Brownback in 2015 rescinded the order issued in August 2007 by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius that banned discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals in hiring and employment agencies under the governor's direct control. He said that Sebelius, a Democrat, had acted unilaterally and undercut the Kansas' legislature.

Brownback is a favorite of Christian conservatives for his strong stances against abortion and same-sex marriage. He also declined to unequivocally declare there is no situation that would allow a country to cite religious freedom as the basis for criminally prosecuting LGBT people.

He made Kansas an economic laboratory for the nation by aggressively cutting taxes.

Grenell's nomination also squeaked by on an 11-10 vote. Grenell served as a spokesman for the United States at the United Nations under four U.S. ambassadors during former President George W. Bush's administration. He later appeared as a foreign affairs commentator on Fox News Channel, an affiliation that Democrats pressed him on during his confirmation hearing.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Grenell had made derogatory comments about the personal appearances of Hillary Clinton; former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; and Callista Gingrich, the wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

"There are few professions that probably prepare you worse for being a diplomat than being a cable news commentator," Murphy said.

Grenell attributed the remarks to failed attempts at humor and said he regretted making them.

The Berlin posting that Grenell is on track to fill is a high-profile job as Trump's relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been closely watched during the president's first year.

Other nominees approved by the Foreign Relations Committee on voice votes include: Kenneth Juster to be ambassador to India; former Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Jamie McCourt to be ambassador to France; and Eric Whitaker, a career Foreign Service officer, to be ambassador to Niger.

Comments

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Religious freedom.............if you happen to be Brownback's religion.............

No LGBT rights

No birth control

No abortions

No gay marriages.

Really great freedoms!!!!!!!!!!!!..............What a crock of "you-know-what!!!!

Don Brennaman 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I just want to be able to go to the liquor store on easter!

MerriAnnie Smith 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Biggest joke in Kansas. Brownback does NOT believe in religious freedom. He has proven time and again that he believes HIS religion has to be enforced by laws... so that whatever his religion believes should be what every citizen is forced to abide by.

I heard that Muslims in Africa do not want Americans in their country because they believe we want to force them to be Christians.

Yeah, like Brownback is going to fix THAT problem.

Michael Kort 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The republicans have to get Brownie out of the country by making him an ambassador to the religious out back so that no one will be able to quiz him on the merits and history of Laffer-nomics in good old Kansas !..........which could throw obvious shade on Trump's tax cut agenda .

Ken Lassman 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Don't worry; even if Brownie is still on this side of the puddle, he will defend Laffer and his fiscal avalanche to the hilt. What's that huge dust cloud and debris field from? "Oh, that just came in on the winds of agricultural change that created a little dust devil around those oil rigs that we have in our state. We get stuff like that all the time on the Great Plains."

Jay Keffer 1 month, 3 weeks ago

"Grenell had made derogatory comments about the personal appearances of Hillary Clinton; former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; and Callista Gingrich, the wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.'

"Grenell attributed the remarks to failed attempts at humor and said he regretted making them."

That's a lot of attempts.

Brandon Devlin 1 month, 3 weeks ago

"He later appeared as a foreign affairs commentator on Fox News Channel, an affiliation that Democrats pressed him on during his confirmation hearing."

However, the next time someone is nominated for a post in a Democratic-majority congress, who might have made numerous appearances on the Rachel Maddow show, and Republicans press the nominee on that, it will just be "hateful rhetoric."

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