(TNS) — Rep. Ron Estes on Wednesday congratulated Gov. Sam Brownback on his appointment to a religious ambassador post with the Trump Administration, saying it's a good match for Brownback's experience and interests.
But he said it could be a while before Brownback can take up the post because of a slow pace in Senate confirmation votes.
President Donald Trump last week nominated Brownback to serve in the post of ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
Confirmation to that post would end Brownback's 6 1/2 year tenure as Kansas governor. But Estes said he doesn't know when a confirmation vote will come.
"Only 10 percent of the presidential appointees have been confirmed through June, whereas in (President) Obama's administration, 90 percent of the presidential appointees had been confirmed," Estes said. "I don't know how long that process is going to take for Gov. Brownback."
Estes, who was Kansas state treasurer until he was elected to Congress in a special election early this year, also praised Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, who will become governor when Brownback formalizes his resignation.
"The lieutenant governor will step up and fulfill his role and I'm sure that he'll do a good job for the next year and a half," Estes said.
Estes talked about Brownback in an impromptu news conference after a speech to the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce.
During his speech, he addressed the problems Congress is having in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, although Republicans control both houses of Congress and the presidency.
He said he understands why some senators have problems voting for a health care bill, but in his view, the worst option would be to do nothing.
"Obamacare has failed and is continuing to fail," Estes said. "Something's got to be done. We can't keep the status quo as it is."
The House has passed a bill to repeal the ACA, President Obama's signature accomplishment in office, and replace it with a Republican plan that's lighter on regulation and centered on market competition to modulate consumers' rates.
A Senate repeal effort fell one vote short.
"I can understand some of the things going through the minds of the senators," Estes said.
He said it's an especially difficult issue for senators from states that expanded Medicaid coverage to the working poor, based on a promise in the ACA that the federal government would pay 90 percent of the ongoing cost.
Estes said he's not sure what the Senate will do now.
He said Kansas is in a better position than some states because the Brownback administration turned down the federal offer to expand Medicaid.
"We're making do with what we have," he said. "So we don't have to worry as much about what's the next steps and what might come out of that."