Before serving as Governor of Kansas, Brownback was a U.S. senator from 1996 until 2010. He served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
When he retired from the Senate in 2010, Brownback was hailed in the chamber as someone "known around the world as a champion of religious freedom." The senator introduced resolutions or bills defending human rights abroad and shaming human rights abusers.
In 2010, he introduced a measure "condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of religious minorities" and calling for the release of the "Baha'i Seven," seven Baha'i leaders held captive by the state for their religious beliefs.
In 2008, Brownback introduced a resolution calling for a Jewish cemetery in Lithuania to be protected against planned construction projects, and insisted that it "should not be further desecrated."
He also introduced a resolution that year welcoming Pope Benedict XVI to the United States and honoring "the unique insights his moral and spiritual reflections bring to the world stage."
Brownback spoke out against persecution of religious minorities in Russia in a 2005 resolution that called on "the government of the Russian Federation to ensure full protection of freedoms for all religious communities and end the harassment of unregistered religious groups."
He also called for a "National Weekend of Prayer and Reflection for the people of Darfur, Sudan" in July of 2005, a year after the U.S. declared genocide was taking place there at the hands of the government and militia groups. Brownback introduced a concurrent resolution in the Senate declaring that genocide was taking place there.
Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.), who wrote the administration in April asking them to nominate an international religious freedom ambassador, emphasized the importance of the ambassador position.
"As anti-religious freedom regimes expand around the world, the United States should clearly speak out for human rights, including religious liberty," he stated on Wednesday.