This week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., cheered the Trump administration for naming Gov. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
“I applaud President Trump’s nomination of Governor Sam Brownback for ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom,” Rubio said on Thursday. “With ancient religious communities such as Christians and Yezidis on the verge of extinction in Iraq and Syria after the Islamic State’s campaign of genocide, and with authoritarian regimes attempting to crush dissent by harassing and imprisoning people of faith, filling this State Department post with a qualified, committed individual has never been more urgent. Governor Brownback brings years of experience and stature at a critical time when religious freedom is under assault globally. Promoting religious freedom must be a foreign policy priority—it is not only a moral imperative but it is directly tied to our national security. I look forward to working with Governor Brownback on these important issues.”
Rubio was active on religious freedom issues last year. Back in April 2016, Rubio teamed up with fellow Senate Republicans Roy Blount of Missouri and John Cornyn of Texas to introduce the “Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act.”
The bill altered the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 by giving the International Religious Freedom Office in the State Department more authority and the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom more power, including reporting directly to the Secretary of State. The bill from Rubio, Blount and Cornyn also created a watch list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) while labeling non-state bodies “Entities of Particular Concern” when it comes to actions against religious freedom.
Rubio’s proposal also gave the White House the ability to sanction “individuals who carry out or order religious restrictions” and increases reporting on genocides directed at particular religions. Back in December, Congress sent the bill to then President Barack Obama.
Brownback has been on the national stage for more than two decades. First elected to be Kansas agricultural commissioner in 1986 when he was 30, Brownback moved up the political ladder, winning a U.S. House seat in 1994 and being elected to the U.S. Senate two years later, winning the seat held by longtime Senate leader Bob Dole. Brownback ranked as one of the most prominent conservatives on Capitol Hill but he flopped badly when he ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, not even getting to the Iowa caucus. In 2010, Brownback was elected governor of Kansas and he won a second term in 2014.