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 WarnerPolicymakers forget duty to protect taxpayers from financial failures Donna Brazile: Congress has duty to halt Trump on Russia sanctions Lawmakers told of growing cyber threat to election systems MORE (Va.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinZinke hits Dems for delaying Interior nominees Manchin faces primary challenge from the left Sessions sequel falls flat following Comey drama MORE (W.Va.), Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampSenate Dem undecided on 2018 reelection run Trump ‘regulatory czar’: Two-for-one rule can work Congress should just say no to more green energy handouts MORE (N.D.), Tom UdallTom UdallDems, greens press Trump administration on methane rewrites Overnight Regulation: House passes bill to roll back Dodd-Frank | Sage grouse back in the spotlight | GOP chair won't back Glass-Steagall revival Overnight Tech: FCC disputes reporter's account of 'manhandling' incident | Verizon to cut 2K jobs at Yahoo | Russians used spyware on Instagram | Virginia moves on 5G networks MORE (N.M.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowNo certainty on cost-sharing payments to insurers Dems express concerns about Trump's proposed rural development cuts Trump, Clinton campaign aides launch their own bids MORE (Mich.), Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillSenators question need for HHS cyber office Overnight Cybersecurity: Obama DHS chief defends Russian hack response | Trump huddles on grid security | Lawmakers warned about cyber threat to election systems We must protect our most vulnerable from financial fraudsters MORE (Mo.), Jon TesterJon TesterOvernight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Trump's 'regulatory czar' advances in Senate Gianforte causes stir after becoming newest House member MORE (Mont.), Ben CardinBen CardinDem senators urged Obama to take action on Russia before election Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump tweetstorm on Russia probe | White House reportedly pushing to weaken sanctions bill | Podesta to testify before House Intel Senate expected to pass Russia sanctions bill for a second time MORE (Md.) and Joe DonnellyJoe DonnellyLawmakers sport LSU gear at baseball game in honor of Scalise Senate votes to continue arming Saudis As Yemenis suffer the consequences Overnight Defense: Mattis defends Trump budget | Senate rejects effort to block Saudi deal | Boeing to cut 50 executive jobs MORE (Ind.), and Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus KingZinke hits Dems for delaying Interior nominees Angus King: I’m sure Flynn will 'appear before the committee one way or another' GOP senators pleased with Ivanka Trump meeting on family leave, child tax credits MORE (Maine), voted with all present Republicans to back Perry.

GOP Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonGeorgia special election runoff: live coverage House approves VA bill, sending it to Trump Senate backs bill making it easier to fire VA employees MORE (Ga.) was not present. 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump called Cruz to press him on ObamaCare repeal bill: report Meadows: Senate bill lacks conservative support to pass House Fifth GOP senator announces opposition to healthcare bill 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 CruzTed CruzTrump called Cruz to press him on ObamaCare repeal bill: report US gas exports not the elixir to European energy security Trump tells Democrats they need ‘courage’ to fix ObamaCare MORE (R-Texas). Democrats have publicly fretted about whether Perry would be able to stand up to or influence the president. 

Sen. Maria CantwellMaria CantwellDems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger 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.