WASHINGTON, D.C. (KWCH) President Donald Trump will nominate Governor Sam Brownback to leave Kansas and serve the Trump administration as Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.
The latest on the announcement:
3 p.m. Thursday, July 27:
Governor Sam Brownback says he does not yet have a timetable for when the transition to his new role in the Trump Administration will be complete, nor when he will complete his service leading Kansas.
Specifically, Brownback says he doesn't have a time frame for the expected confirmation or votes from the Senate to approve his nomination.
"I am honored to assume -- if approved by the Senate -- such an important role," Brownback says.
He says the issue of religious freedom is important for the Trump Administration and he "(looks) forward to carrying the mantle" for the cause.
In discussing his qualification for the position, Brownback pointed out he was one of the supporters of the initial 1998 bill that created he role. He mentioned his efforts overseas to help people persecuted for their faiths.
"The issue of religious freedom is incredibly important and this administration is committed to working on it and working aggressively on this topic," he said. "I look forward to carrying this mantle of international religious liberty and freedom around the world on a number of topics."
Brownback began Thursday afternoon's press conference by discussing his decades' of service in Kansas and what he's been able to accomplish in his different capacities, including as the state's governor.
Highlights he mentioned included business formation and the state's expansion in wind energy. He says he's most proud of the state's shift toward becoming more pro-life, tied in with 19 pieces of legislation he's signed.
2 p.m. Thursday, July 27:
A press conference on Gov. Sam Brownback's expected nomination to serve the Trump Administration as Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom was held Thursday afternoon. You can hear what the governor had to say here
Congressmen Ron Estes and Roger Marshall have also weighed in on Brownback's nomination. Estes issued the following statement Wednesday night:
“Sam Brownback’s commitment to Kansas is admirable and he has served our state and country honorably. There is no better person to promote religious freedom around the world on behalf of America.”
Marshall congratulated Brownback and called him a long-time advocate for those of faith. He says the governor is well-suited for this role.
Kansas Republican Party Chairman Kelly Arnold says Brownback has been working with the Trump Administration to potentially fill a role for a while. A big part of the process is complete.
While he was a U.S. Senator in 1998, Brownback was a major supporter of the bill to create the position.
"This is an ambassadorship that helps promote the religious freedoms of people, not just in the U.S., but internationally," Arnold says.
He says Brownback has accepted the nomination from the president, and is excited to get on to the next step in the process.
As Brownback will work within the State Department, Arnold says the governor will stick to his core beliefs in the role, no matter what.
"If there are tough issues, he needs to bring the attention to the secretary of state, or the president, he will do that."
U.S. Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran says they are pleased by Gov. Sam Brownback possible nomination as a U.S. ambassador.
Roberts says he is happy and proud of the governor.
"Sam has always been called to fight for those of all faiths, and I am glad he has been given an opportunity to answer this call," he said. "I wish he and Mary all the best in this new chapter of their public service."
In a tweet, Moran called Brownback "a fighter for the persecuted".
.@GovSamBrownback has long been a fighter for the persecuted - will be tireless, effective Ambassador for International Religious Freedom.— Jerry Moran (@JerryMoran) July 27, 2017
Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas) also tweeted, "Congratulations to @govsambrownback on your nomination. I wish you, Mary and your family all the best!"
Sam Brownback will remain the governor of Kansas - for now.
After the White House confirmed Brownback's nomination as Ambassador at for International Religious Freedom, rumors began to circulate that the governor had resigned.
"Governor Brownback is still Governor of Kansas," said Melika Willoughby, a spokeswoman for the governor's office.
From his official Twitter account, the governor tweeted that he is honored to be considered for the position.
"Religious Freedom is the first freedom. The choice of what you do with your own soul. I am honored to serve such an important cause. -SDB."
Religious Freedom is the first freedom. The choice of what you do with your own soul. I am honored to serve such an important cause. -SDB— Sam Brownback (@govsambrownback) July 27, 2017
Under the new position, Brownback would be in charge of monitoring religious persecution and discrimination worldwide. He would also recommend and implement policies in respective regions or countries, and develop programs to promote religious freedom.
A press conference to announce more on the promotion is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
Kansas Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley (D-Topeka) released the following statement after learning of Gov. Sam Brownback's promotion:
"Sam Brownback will be remembered for becoming the most unpopular governor in America. His tax experiment failed to grow the economy as he promised. Instead, his policies have bankrupted our state and led to destroying nearly every agency of state government as well as his own political career.
"He is moving on not because of anything he accomplished in Kansas but because of who he knows in Washington, D.C."
House Minority Leader Rep. Jim Ward (D-Wichita) shared Hensley's sentiment.
"Sam Brownback is leaving a legacy of destruction across the state, there's not a core essential service that hasn't been diminished by his policies," he said.
"I think when new governors take office they will be careful they don't go down the road that Brownback did and that will be the legacy this state will spend the next few years digging out from Brownback."
Willoughby said a press conference Thursday afternoon.
President Donald Trump has announced his intent to nominate Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback for Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Department of State.
Eyewitness News has confirmed this information through Kelly Arnold, Chair of the Kansas Republican Party.
Arnold says Brownback must still be confirmed to the position by the U.S. Senate. That process normally takes about 60 days.
“Brownback will make an excellent ambassador because this office covers issues he has fought for as Kansas Governor and as a Kansas Senator,” said Arnold.
Earlier this year, it was reported that the present would appoint Brownback as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for food and agriculture, a position that would have moved him to Rome.
If Brownback is confirmed, he will be succeeded in office by Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer.
Brownback has served as the governor of Kansas since 2011.