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Vote by Pence advances nominee for religious freedom post

By RICHARD LARDNER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans needed a deciding vote from Vice President Mike Pence to advance Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s bid to be ambassador for international religious freedom in the Trump administration.

Pence arrived in the chamber Wednesday afternoon and cast the final vote to cut off debate on Brownback’s nomination. That clears the way for a final vote to confirm Brownback in the post.

Senators voted along party lines, 50-49. Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee were absent.

The conservative Republican governor is a favorite of Christian conservatives. But he faced stiff opposition from Senate Democrats and LGBT rights groups over his views on same-sex marriage and gender identity.

If Brownback is confirmed, fellow Republican Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer would be elevated to governor.

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