When Brownback's nomination came up for a vote Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence was summoned to the Senate to break a tie twice: first on a procedural vote to break a filibuster, and then again on the final vote to confirm Brownback.
During a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in October, Brownback refused to answer Sen.
Many Democrats and gay rights advocates opposed the nomination of Mr. Brownback, who ended anti-discrimination protections for gay state workers in 2015. The vote among the leaders was 5-3, the exact tally Brownback needed for the project to go forward. Two Republican senators were absent: Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who eventually won the GOP presidential nomination.
As president of the Senate, the vice president has a unique relationship with the upper chamber and can cast a tie-breaking vote in the rare event the Senate is evenly split. Vice President Mike Pence was the deciding vote.
The GOP majority shrunk to 51-49 when Democrats won an upset in the Alabama special election late previous year, diminishing an already tight margin.
"He's a former senator".
"Over the years that hasn't always happened", he said. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., with a chuckle.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, argued on the Senate floor Wednesday that Brownback's answer was insufficient.
Brownback, a known social conservative who previously served in the Senate and sought the Republican nomination for president in 2008, did not face an easy confirmation process. "Indeed, as person of faith myself, I admire it", he said.
Brownback's confirmation clears the way for Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, a Johnson County plastic surgeon, to succeed him as Kansas governor. I extend my best wishes to Lieutenant Governor Colyer as he assumes this office, and I have every confidence that he will serve the state well. Brownback was instrumental in developing and passing the 1998 International Freedom Act.
As Ambassador, Brownback is tasked with promoting religious freedom as a key objective of USA foreign policy while monitoring religious persecution and discrimination around the world.
Advocates for global religious freedom, particularly conservative Christian groups, have been asking the Trump administration to fill the vacant ambassadorship for months.