With Congress in shambles, an unfit leader at the helm, and a vast array of concerned and upset supporters, it is clear that Vice President Mike Pence has had his work cut out for him in the first year of the Trump administration. Whether attempting to mitigate the controversies surrounding President Trump, or having an active influence in Congressional operations, Pence seemingly has played a larger role than his recent predecessors, albeit one that has simultaneously been controversial as well.
One aspect that has been a recurring task that Pence has had to do can be seen in that of breaking ties that have so often come up in the Senate since the beginning of the new administration. This is due to a variety of reasons, such as the Republicans only holding a slight majority over Democrats, Senator John McCain’s (R-A.Z.) ongoing leaves due to his battle with brain cancer, as well as the reality that many GOP lawmakers are not entirely in line with the radical rhetoric and policy proposals the current administration aims to implement. Nevertheless, Pence has acted as a saving grace for Republicans aiming to get anything by the steadfast Democratic Senators, as his vote has been a tie-breaker in the chamber for the eighth time since taking the vice presidential role.
On Wednesday, Pence broke a 49-49 tie in the Senate to confirm Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R) as the administration’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. The vote, interestingly enough, was the second one in the same day for Brownback, as Pence also had to end the debate on the governor’s nomination earlier on Wednesday. With Senator Bob Corker (R-T.N.) in Davos for the World Economic Forum, and Senator John McCain (R-A.Z.) on another leave due to his medical issues, the Senate is essentially gridlocked until one of the two senators return.
This is the infamous homophobic bigot that Pence just broke a tie to confirm as the US "religious freedom" ambassador. https://t.co/bvfpShEXgX
— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) January 24, 2018
With the vote regarding Brownback split directly down the middle along party lines, Democrats made it clear why they vehemently opposed voting for him as the ambassador for religious freedom. According to a Washington Post report,
‘President Donald Trump’s selection of Brownback for the State Department post had come under fire from Senate Democrats and LGBT rights groups. During his confirmation hearing last year, Brownback 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.’
Just a reminder that Brownback is the guy who called same-sex marriage "a vast, social experiment" and warned it would "drive the marriage rates down." But hey, let the guy run a State Dept office in 2018. https://t.co/13m6eQNaYo
— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) January 24, 2018
America has always been about freedom, fairness and opportunity for all. That should be our message to the rest of the world but Sam Brownback won't deliver it and advance the cause of #LGBTQ equality.
— Sen. Tammy Baldwin (@SenatorBaldwin) January 24, 2018
Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) claimed that he cannot support his former colleague in this role, due to the fact that his record on all religious beliefs is faulty, and that Brownback may focus primarily on protecting Christian minorities around the world, as opposed to people of all faiths.
Brownback, who was elected to the Senate in 1996 and left in 2010 upon winning the gubernatorial election in his home state of Kansas, is a devout Catholic and was viewed as one of the more heavily conservative members of the Senate during his tenure. Democrats argue that his confirmation in the forthcoming role would be detrimental to religious minorities not of the Christian faith, given the extreme mentalities Brownback embodies.
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