Sen. Graham puts hold on Energy nominee

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamDem rep: If you believe in math, you can't believe in Trump's budget Overnight Finance: Inside Trump's first budget | 66 programs on the chopping block | Hearing highlights border tax divide | Labor to implement investment adviser rule Five takeaways from Trump's first budget proposal MORE (R-S.C.) is putting a procedural hold on President Obama’s pick to run the Energy Department (DOE), an aide told The Hill on Tuesday.

Graham is blocking Ernest MonizErnest MonizOvernight Energy: Trump signs climate order | Greens vow to fight back What we learned from Rick Perry's confirmation hearing Overnight Energy: Rough hearing for Tillerson MORE until he receives answers about how the nominee for energy secretary will handle a nuclear waste disposal program in South Carolina.

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Sen. Ron WydenRon WydenGOP senators bristle at Trump's Medicaid cuts Dem senator posts photo of Trump budget in recycling bin Flynn refusal sets up potential subpoena showdown MORE (D-Ore.), who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told The Hill in the Capitol on Tuesday that he "was not aware of any hold," explaining he understood Graham has a meeting with Moniz scheduled for Wednesday.

Moniz, a physicist who runs the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative, is expected to eventually earn confirmation from the full Senate. Wyden said he has been talking to Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThis week: Congress awaits Comey testimony Will Republicans grow a spine and restore democracy? Racial representation: A solution to inequality in the People’s House MORE (D-Nev.) "continuously" to get a full Senate vote on Moniz "as expeditiously as possible."

But Graham’s concerns about the future of the Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX) program at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C., will delay a vote.

The project would convert weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for commercial nuclear reactors. Moniz would oversee the program if confirmed, as DOE manages the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile.

But the MOX program, slated to be operational by 2017, is running a decade behind its scheduled 2007 opening. At an estimated $4.8 billion price tag, it’s also three times costlier than initially projected.

To address the cost overruns, the DOE and the White House brokered a deal in February to slash the program’s budget by 75 percent.

That has alarmed Graham and Sen. Tim ScottTim ScottGOP senators lukewarm to lawmaker leading FBI Senate GOP defends writing its healthcare bill in private GOP senators on Comey firing: Where they stand MORE (R-S.C.), who cast the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s lone vote opposing Moniz’s nomination earlier this month.

Scott explained that he voted against Moniz because of his “lack of clarity on the future of the MOX program,” calling it “unacceptable.”

— This story was updated at 2:51 p.m.