Vice President Mike Pence cast his eighth tie-breaking vote in the Senate on Wednesday to confirm Gov. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., to be at-large ambassador for international religious freedom.
With Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., overseas and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., undergoing treatment for his brain cancer, the vote was split 49-49 with every Republican voting to confirm Brownback and every Democrat voting against him. Pence had just returned from an overseas trip himself Wednesday morning and earlier in the day cast his seventh tie-breaker to let the nomination proceed.
“I just think that it’s really important if you’re going to be the ambassador trying to promote tolerance that you show that kind of attitude,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said while explaining her opposition to Brownback, according to the Kansas City Star. “And his difficulty with the question about using religion as an excuse to persecute or prosecute people who are gay, that was a disqualifier."
.@VP: "On this vote the yeas are 49, the nays are 49. The Senate being equally divided the Vice President votes in the affirmative and the nomination is confirmed."
U.S. Senate confirms @govsambrownback to be Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, 50-49. pic.twitter.com/xbExoEzQWg— CSPAN (@cspan) January 24, 2018
Like McCaskill, many of her fellow Democrats pointed to Brownback’s stances on LGBT rights as the reason why they couldn’t support him for the ambassadorship, whereas many Republicans applauded President Trump's nomination.
The position, which was created in 1998, oversees global advocacy work for religious minorities in areas of conflict and persecution.