Sam Brownback



The information presented below reflects the 2008 election season and is not representative of changes in titles, roles, or policy views expressed since then.

Sam Brownback Sen. Brownback (R-KS) has allied with Democrats on some major foreign policy issues, including Iraq, immigration, and Darfur. With presidential hopeful Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), Brownback cosponsored a plan to create a federated Iraq of Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish states. Brownback has also been one of the most vocal Republican candidates on the crisis in Darfur, traveling to the region with Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).

Brownback serves on the Appropriations and Judiciary Committees and is the ranking member of the Joint Economic Committees. He also serves on the Helsinki Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe and co-chairs the Senate Human Rights Caucus.

Brownback worked as Kansas Secretary of Agriculture and served as a White House Fellow in the office of the U.S. Trade Representative under the first Bush administration. He held a seat in the House of Representatives in 1994 before taking over Bob Dole's Senate seat in 1996.

Sen. Brownback formally withdrew his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination on October 19, 2007.

Campaign Issues

U.S. Policy toward Africa

Sen. Brownback (R-KS) has been a leading voice in Congress for U.S. action in Darfur. With Obama, Brownback wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post in December 2005 calling on the United States to “help transform the African Union protection force into a sizable, effective multinational force.”  He introduced the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act in 2005, which urged U.S. military intervention. In 2006, Brownback traveled to the region with Obama. Brownback cosponsored Biden’s July 2007 resolution demanding the deployment of an international peacekeeping force to Darfur. Brownback also says he sold tens of thousands of dollars in mutual fund holdings in an effort to divest (WashPost) from any companies that do business in Sudan.

In 2006, Brownback drafted legislation that would have required the United States to spend 50 percent of aid to Africa on items like water wells and immunizations, reported the Wall Street Journal.

U.S. Policy toward India

Sen. Brownback (R-KS) calls India “one of our most important strategic partners in Asia.” Like Richardson, he has stressed India’s potential role as a “counterweight” to China’s economy.

Brownback, who formerly chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, has long advocated engagement with India. In 1999, he called for an end to economic sanctions intended to force India to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Brownback voted for the United States-India Energy Security Cooperation Act of 2006 in part, he said, because “India has protected its nuclear program for thirty years and has not proliferated.”

Cuba Policy

Sen. Brownback (R-KS) has expressed support ( for the embargo on Cuba. Breaking with the Republican White House, however, Brownback in 2003 voted to ease restrictions (NYT) on Americans traveling to Cuba. That amendment to the Treasury and Transportation Departments spending bill passed.

Military Tribunals and Guantanamo Bay

Sen. Brownback (R-KS) supports keeping Guantanamo Bay’s prison camp open. He is in an uncommon position for a presidential candidate because the Fort Leavenworth military prison in his state is one location where detainees may be transferred should Guantanamo close down. In response to that suggestion, Brownback said, “Given the investment we have made in a secure facility at Guantanamo, far away from U.S. residents, the administration needs to make a much more compelling case that a detainee transfer is a justifiable use of resources, that it can be completed safely, and that it can be done without significant impact on local communities.”

Brownback voted for the Military Commissions Act.

Domestic Intelligence

Sen. Brownback (R-KS) expressed disapproval of Bush’s warrantless domestic wiretapping program. Brownback, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, raised concerns in a hearing with Attorney General Gonzales that an unchecked domestic surveillance program could lead to a loss of public support for the broader war on terrorism, saying “I think we need to provide a process that has as much security to the American public that there's no abuse in this system.”

Brownback voted to confirm former Michael Hayden as CIA director, despite Hayden’s role in administering the NSA program.


Sen. Brownback (R-KS) argues that “winning the war on terror requires the emergence of moderate governments across the Middle East.” Particularly, he says, the United States should encourage a “political equilibrium” in Iraq by helping to facilitate some sort of accord between Sunnis and Shiites. He also advocates increased security on Iraqi borders and says U.S. troops should “chase the foreign fighters out of Iraq.”

He says a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq could result in a disastrous radicalization of the governments in the region, and thereby “reverse the gains that we have made in the war on terror and extend the war on terror for years to come.” Brownback has generally backed the Bush administration’s tough measures in the war on terror, including the Patriot Act and the detention of so-called “enemy combatants” in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Democracy Promotion in the Arab World

Sen. Brownback (R-KS) is a strong supporter of democracy promotion efforts, especially in the Middle East. “We must take proactive steps to promote democracy and human rights abroad,” Brownback said in 2004, after the passage of several amendments that he proposed to an omnibus spending bill. Those amendments granted $3 million in funding to “pro-democracy efforts” in Iran. They also redirected pro-democracy funding in Egypt to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) because, as Brownback said, “it is an abuse of taxpayer funds to have these funds spent at the discretion of the government of Egypt.”

Brownback cosponsored the 2006 Iran Freedom Support Act.

Energy Policy

Sen. Brownback (R-KS), like most presidential candidates, has called for a reduction of foreign oil dependency. In 2001, Brownback sponsored the National Energy Security Act and the Energy Security Tax Policy Act, which would have attempted to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil by 50 percent by 2011. These bills, however, were never passed. More recently, Brownback supported the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, saying “We won’t fix high gas prices by stifling oil exploration or adding new taxes or expensive regulations. What we can do is embrace a basic principle of economics—the best way to keep energy prices down is to increase supply.” Brownback voted for the 2005 Energy Policy Act and cosponsored the Renewable Fuels Standard amendment, which requires that “gas sold in the United States contain 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel by 2012.” That amendment passed.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Sen. Brownback (R-KS) calls Israel “a beacon of freedom and hope in an otherwise troubled region.” He advocates a Palestinian state as soon as “the Palestinians have demonstrated their commitment to democracy, the rule of law, and their full acceptance of the State of Israel with Jerusalem as its capital.”

Brownback cosponsored the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006. He also sponsored a resolution in the Senate that would recognize Jerusalem as the “undivided capital of Israel before the United States recognizes a Palestinian state.” That resolution, first introduced in April 2007, has not yet been voted on. Brownback introduced the same resolution in the Senate to no avail in 2003 and 2005.

North Korea Policy

Sen. Brownback (R-KS) has centered his North Korea policy on human rights issues as a means to destabilize the Kim regime, and he sponsored the North Korean Human Rights Act passed by Congress in 2004. The law made it easier for North Koreans to apply for refugee status with the U.S. State Department and provided funds supporting economic reform, human rights, and democracy movements in the communist country. In 2006, six people gained refugee status and arrived in the United States in Washington’s first ever acceptance of North Korean refugees.

In 2006, Brownback cosponsored the North Korea Nonproliferation Act of 2006 which allows for sanctions against companies and businesses that provide North Korea with equipment, services, or technology for its weapons program.

U.S. Policy toward China

Sen. Brownback (R-KS) has expressed support for the Falun Gong religious group, calling for an end to what he called the “crushing governmental interference” of leaders in Beijing. In 2004, Brownback criticized inaction by the then-UN Human Rights Commission on China’s poor human rights record.

Brownback supported the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act of 2001, which increased military ties between the United States and Taiwan. Some experts raised concern that the bill would cause confrontation (People’s Daily) with China. The act never became law.

In 2000, Brownback voted for the U.S.-China Trade Relations Act.


Sen. Brownback (R-KS) backs the White House’s war efforts in Iraq and maintains that “the region and the world are safer now that Saddam Hussein has been removed from power.” However, Brownback did not support the troop surge. Instead, he has called for a strong diplomatic effort in the region. Like Biden, Brownback supports a “three-state, one-country solution” in Iraq.

In 2002, Brownback voted in favor of the invasion of Iraq.


The pro-trade Club for Growth calls Sen. Brownback (R-KS) “one of the most consistent supporters of free trade in the U.S. Senate,” but criticizes his support for a cap on foreign wheat gluten products and for the tariff on imported ethanol. Brownback voted for the FTAs with Oman, Chile, and Singapore. He also voted for CAFTA, an act which he said would likely help various industries in his state of Kansas. In 2004, he voted in favor of the U.S.-Australian Trade Act. Brownback voted for normal trade relations with China in 2000.

Homeland Security

Brownback has generally backed the Bush administration's homeland security policies. Brownback, who serves on the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security, voted in favor of the Patriot Act. Brownback voted against making FEMA independent from the DHS in 2006. In 2005, he voted against the Homeland Security Grant Program Amendment. He voted for the National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004, as well as the Homeland Security Act of 2002.


Sen. Brownback (R-KS) has said that he is against opening diplomatic ties with Iran. Brownback was the sole sponsor in the Senate of the Iran Human Rights Act of 2006, which sought to “hold the current regime in Iran accountable for its human rights record and to support a transition to democracy in Iran.” That bill has not been passed. In March 2007, Brownback cosponsored with Dodd the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act. Brownback has said that he supports an increase in funding for independent human rights groups in Iran, and promotes regime change “from within.”

Climate Change

In an interview with U.S. News and World Report, Sen. Brownback (R-KS) said the United States should “do everything we can without killing the economy to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere.” But, he said, he would not be in favor of a cap-and-trade system that would require manufacturers to reduce emissions, because he fears that such a measure could not be “effective without substantially harming the economy.”

In 2001, Brownback proposed the Domestic Carbon Conservation Incentive Act, which, he said, would fight climate change by rewarding farmers for conserving production of soil carbon. He also introduced the International Carbon Conservation Act in 2001, which would create a carbon sequestration program and a panel within the Department of Commerce “to enhance international conservation.” Neither of these bills passed.


Sen. Brownback (R-KS) favors providing illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship. He has also said that the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security should collaborate in investigations of illegal immigrants. After voting for the Secure Fence Act, Brownback said, “Building 700 miles of fencing along the most vulnerable sections of our southern border goes a long way toward securing the border, and I hope we can use passage of this bill as a starting point toward long-term, comprehensive immigration reform.”

United Nations

Sen. Brownback (R-KS) advocates UN reform. He supported the National Security Revitalization Act in 1995, which “prohibited U.S. military forces from being placed under UN command and control in most situations” and “provided for the United States to be reimbursed for participation in UN peacekeeping operations.”  Brownback has also said that the United States should pay lower dues, which total about a quarter of general and peacekeeping dues.