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 WydenOvernight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas US wins aerospace subsidies trade case over the EU Wells CEO Stumpf resigns from Fed advisory panel MORE (D-Ore.) and ranking member Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiOvernight Energy: Obama integrates climate change into national security planning GOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase Overnight Energy: Lawmakers kick off energy bill talks MORE (R-Alaska) hailed the fact that Ernest MonizErnest MonizOvernight Energy: Trump visits Flint | GOP chairman defends subpoenas in climate probe Overnight Energy: Trump to visit Flint water plant Wednesday US, India expand clean energy research 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 GrahamShutdown risk grows over Flint Senate poised to override Obama veto Overnight Defense: Debate night is here | Senate sets vote on 9/11 veto override | Kerry, McCain spar over Syria 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.