Senate confirms Moniz as Energy secretary

The Senate on Thursday voted 97-0 to approve President Obama’s nominee to head the Department of Energy.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron WydenRon WydenDems push for US, EU cooperation on China's market status Senate Dems push Obama for more Iran transparency Watchdog faults Energy Department over whistleblower retaliation MORE (D-Ore.) and ranking member Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiBig Oil makes a push for risky and reckless Arctic drilling GOP divided over 0M for climate fund Overnight Energy: House passes first Interior, EPA spending bill in seven years MORE (R-Alaska) hailed the fact that Ernest MonizErnest MonizEnergy Dept. helps with Biden’s cancer project Bay Area energy meeting is where climate protection gets real The Trail 2016: Donald and the Supremes MORE had broad bipartisan support.

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“I think it is good when we are able to stand as the chairman and ranking member and really come to terms of agreement and support for an individual,” Murkowski said ahead of the confirmation vote.

Wyden said Moniz “is smart about energy policy” and “savvy” about how the Department of Energy operates.

“There are huge challenges ahead of him at the Department of Energy, but I believe he is very qualified,” Wyden said.

Moniz, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist who served as undersecretary of Energy in the Clinton administration, replaces former Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

“The Senate is poised to confirm someone who is extremely well-qualified for secretary of Energy and prove that the American Dream is alive and well,” Sen. Mo Cowan (D-Mass.) said. “Through the MIT energy initiative, he has been on the forefront of energy technology.”

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamSyria activists cheer Kaine pick Vulnerable GOP senators praise Kaine Meghan McCain: ‘I no longer recognize my party’ MORE (R-S.C.) had been holding up a vote over his concerns about federal management of a program in his state to transform weapons-grade plutonium into fuel. But he removed that hold last week.

“I put a hold on Dr. Moniz not because of anything to do with him. He’s a wonderful fellow,” Graham said ahead of the vote. “The reason we put a hold on his nomination was to get attention.”

— Ben Geman contributed to this report.

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