Perry’s Energy nomination advanced by committee

Perry’s Energy nomination advanced by committee
© Greg Nash

A Senate panel on Tuesday signed off on former Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s nomination to lead the Department of Energy.

The Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 17-6 to approve Perry’s nomination, sending it to the full Senate.

During his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Perry was forced to walk back his infamous pledge, from his 2011 presidential run, to abolish the Energy Department if he had been elected.

Instead, he said, he understands and respects the agency’s mission, which focuses on the country’s nuclear arsenal and research activities that span across industries.

“I am committed to modernizing our nuclear stockpile, promoting and developing American energy in all forms, advancing the department’s critical science and technology mission, and carefully disposing of nuclear waste,” he said during his hearing.

During his confirmation hearing, Democrats on the panel expressed concerns about Perry’s position on climate change — he believes in it, but doesn’t know how much influence human activities have on it.

They also pressed Perry on proposed Trump administration cuts to the Department of Energy, begging him to convince the president and others to preserve the agency’s research capacity.

Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellSenate energy bill is misguided gift to Trump’s dirty fossil fuel agenda Help states solve their housing problems with the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act Time to pass the U.S. OUTDOOR Act to support American jobs and consumers MORE (D-Wash.) said Tuesday she is worried about Perry's ability to influence the White House, noting President Trump's lack of consultation with the Pentagon on national security executive orders issued last week.

"The governor’s responses for the record left me wondering whether he would stand up to fight the White House’s approach to these programs," she said.

"A lot can be said in the last few days to what the White House’s approach is. Frankly, I don’t think it matters, because if you can have somebody over at the Department of Defense who’s not even consulted on a security memorandum, where is that going to leave Secretary Perry on these issues of nuclear security as well?"

Even so, Republicans said they trusted Perry to run the department smoothly. He is likely to win confirmation comfortably when his nomination goes to the floor.

“I don’t subscribe to the theory that only scientists can manage other scientists,” Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Collins skeptical of new ObamaCare repeal effort How Senate relationships could decide ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Alaska) said at Perry's confirmation hearing, noting the agency’s research mission.

“I think what we need is a good manager. We need a manager to manage all these scientists, one who acknowledges, maybe I don’t know everything in that space, but being capable of organizing, setting direction, imposing accountability, making the greatest possible use of taxpayer dollars and setting goals.”

— Updated at 10:25 a.m.