Manchin eyed as potential pick for Energy secretary: report
White House and Republican officials are floating the possibility of appointing Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) as Energy secretary, Bloomberg reported Friday.
Manchin was reportedly considered for the job after Trump’s election in November, but Trump eventually nominated former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to the post.
Jonathan Kott, a spokesman for Manchin, told Bloomberg that the West Virginia Democrat hasn’t been in talks for the job and did not say whether Manchin would take the job if offered to him.
“Senator Manchin has not had any recent conversations with the Administration about the Secretary of Energy position. He remains committed to serving the people of West Virginia,” Kott said.
If Manchin were to take over at the Energy Department, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a former Democrat who earlier this month switched to the GOP, would be able to appoint a Republican to replace Manchin in the Senate.
Such a move would expand the GOP’s majority in the chamber, potentially boosting Republicans’ efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare. A repeal and replace bill failed by one vote last month after three Republicans voted against it.
Perry, the current Energy secretary, has also been floated as a possible replacement for former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. Kelly became President Trump’s chief of staff in July.
The Trump administration has said revitalizing American fossil fuel industries, including West Virginia’s dwindling coal sector, is a key goal. Under Perry, the Energy Department is conducting a study of the reliability of the electric grid, which some green advocates worry is a way to advance coal and natural gas over renewable sources.
But the Energy Department’s portfolio is less focused on energy production than other agencies, such as the Department of Interior. The Energy Department’s main tasks include overseeing the national laboratories system, conducting research and development, and maintaining the nation’s arsenal of nuclear weapons.