Senate advances Rick Perry to be Energy secretary

Senate advances Rick Perry to be Energy secretary
© Greg Nash

The Senate voted Thursday to forward with Rick Perry's nomination to be Energy secretary. 

Senators voted 62-37 to get his nomination over an initial procedural hurdle, setting up a final vote for Perry as early as Friday if senators fail to reach a deal to speed up his nomination.

Democratic Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerGiuliani: Trump asked White House lawyer to go to Russia briefings Top Intel Dems denounce presence of Trump lawyer at classified briefings White House lawyer’s presence at FBI meetings sets off alarm bells for Dems MORE (Va.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Finance: House sends Dodd-Frank rollbacks to Trump | What's in the bill | Trump says there is 'no deal' to help ZTE | Panel approves bill to toughen foreign investment reviews House votes to ease regulation of banks, sending bill to Trump Senators demand answers on Trump’s ZTE deal MORE (W.Va.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Finance: Trump signs Dodd-Frank rollback | Snubs key Dems at ceremony | Senate confirms banking regulator | Lawmakers lash out on Trump auto tariffs Trump signs Dodd-Frank rollback Trump doesn't invite key Dems to signing ceremony on their bill MORE (N.D.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallDem senator presses EPA over reporter 'intimidation' Dems expand 2018 message to ‘draining the swamp’ Overnight Energy: Pruitt taps man behind 'lock her up' chant for EPA office | Watchdog to review EPA email policies | Three Republicans join climate caucus MORE (N.M.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSenate Dems to Mnuchin: Don't index capital gains to inflation This week: House GOP regroups after farm bill failure The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by CVS Health - A pivotal day for House Republicans on immigration MORE (Mich.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDems seek to chip away at Trump’s economic record The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Republicans see some daylight in midterm polling Trump urges anti-abortion advocates to rally in November MORE (Mo.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterPro-Trump super PAC raises .5 million in 6 weeks Overnight Finance: Trump signs Dodd-Frank rollback | Snubs key Dems at ceremony | Senate confirms banking regulator | Lawmakers lash out on Trump auto tariffs Trump signs Dodd-Frank rollback MORE (Mont.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinDeregulating firearms exports risks putting guns in the wrong hands Senate Dems to Mnuchin: Don't index capital gains to inflation Senate panel unanimously approves water infrastructure bill MORE (Md.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyOvernight Finance: Trump signs Dodd-Frank rollback | Snubs key Dems at ceremony | Senate confirms banking regulator | Lawmakers lash out on Trump auto tariffs Trump signs Dodd-Frank rollback Trump doesn't invite key Dems to signing ceremony on their bill MORE (Ind.), and Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingFor .2 billion, taxpayers should get more than Congress’s trial balloons Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump hits federally funded clinics with new abortion restrictions Dem senators ask drug companies to list prices in ads MORE (Maine), voted with all present Republicans to back Perry.

GOP Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonOvernight Defense: Trump decision on Korea summit coming 'next week' | China disinvited from major naval exercise | Senate sends VA reform bill to Trump Senate sends major VA reform bill to Trump's desk Senate panel heading toward June hearing for Trump's next VA pick MORE (Ga.) was not present. 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell says he backs Mueller probe after classified briefing Overnight Finance: Trump signs Dodd-Frank rollback | Snubs key Dems at ceremony | Senate confirms banking regulator | Lawmakers lash out on Trump auto tariffs Senate Dems’ campaign chief ‘welcomes’ midterm support from Clintons MORE (R-Ky.) predicted ahead of the vote that Perry would get bipartisan support, adding that once the former Texas governor is confirmed, he can "begin leading on smarter policies at the Energy Department." 

Perry wasn't included on a list of top targets from Democrats. 

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

Perry pledged to abolish the Energy Department when he was running for president in 2011 — notably forgetting the department’s name during a debate while listing the agencies he wanted to cut.

He was forced to walk back that pledge during is confirmation hearing, instead saying he would focus on updating the country's nuclear arsenal and research activities. 

“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,” Perry said during his hearing.

Democrats also raised concerns about Perry's position on climate change. The former governor says he believes in it, but doesn't know how much influence humans have had. 

Trump praised Perry last year as a potential 2018 challenger to Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPro-Trump super PAC raises .5 million in 6 weeks Trump has exposed Democratic hypocrisy on prison reform Tapper lists 'conspiracy theories' Trump has shared MORE (R-Texas). Democrats have publicly fretted about whether Perry would be able to stand up to or influence the president. 

Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellHillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers Twitter CEO meets with lawmakers to talk net neutrality, privacy Senate Dems urge Trump to remain in Iran deal ahead of announcement MORE (D-Wash.) said during the confirmation hearing that she worried about Perry's ability to influence the White House and Trump's inner circle of advisers.

"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.