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 WarnerBipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform US sugar program The Hill interview — DNC chief: I came here to win elections Virginia's governor race: What to watch for MORE (Va.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDems mull big changes after Brazile bombshell A bipartisan bridge opens between the House and Senate Collins, Manchin to serve as No Labels co-chairs MORE (W.Va.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampNorth Dakota rep: Trump wants me to run for Senate No room for amnesty in our government spending bill Trump bank nominee gets rough reception at confirmation hearing MORE (N.D.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallDemocrats oppose effort to delay or repeal Interior methane rule CBS series 'Madam Secretary' exploring 'fake news' plot Democrats double down on calls for Congress to protect Mueller MORE (N.M.), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSupreme Court weighs Congress's power to dismiss lawsuits We must fund community health centers now Overnight Energy: Perry takes heat for sexual assault comments | Clovis withdraws nomination for USDA post | Battle lines drawn on Arctic refuge drilling | Energy regulator back to full strength MORE (Mich.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDemocratic Homeland Security members request additional DHS nominee testimony Senate panel delays vote on Trump’s Homeland Security pick Steve Israel: ‘We had a better time at the DMZ than we’re going to have tonight’ MORE (Mo.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDems mull big changes after Brazile bombshell No room for amnesty in our government spending bill Trump bank nominee gets rough reception at confirmation hearing MORE (Mont.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinFacebook farce shows lawmaker deviousness, demagoguery Dem senator wants details on Manafort's multiple passports US backs out of global oil anti-corruption effort MORE (Md.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyNo room for amnesty in our government spending bill Senate confirms Larsen to federal appeals court Senate confirms controversial Trump nominee to appeals court MORE (Ind.), and Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingMeet the GOP senator quietly pushing an ObamaCare fix Uranium One deal led to some exports to Europe, memos show Senators demand more action from tech firms on Russian election meddling MORE (Maine), voted with all present Republicans to back Perry.

GOP Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonCongress is working to honor America’s heroes Bipartisan lawmakers can rebuild trust by passing infusion therapy bill 24 senators co-sponsor bipartisan ObamaCare deal MORE (Ga.) was not present. 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell expects Paul to return to Senate next week Former Hill staff calls for mandatory harassment training Gaming the odds of any GOP tax bill getting signed into law 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 CruzOvernight Finance: GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few no votes | Highlights from day two of markup | House votes to overturn joint-employer rule | Senate panel approves North Korean banking sanctions GOP criticism of tax bill grows, but few ready to vote against it Anti-gay marriage county clerk Kim Davis to seek reelection in Kentucky 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 CantwellDemocrats oppose effort to delay or repeal Interior methane rule Senators spar over proposal to drill in Alaska wildlife refuge Fake quorum calls are an excuse for the Senate's inaction 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.