- The Senate Energy Committee voted 17-6 to approve the nomination of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy, sending matter to the full chamber for a vote.
- Perry's nomination has alarmed some lawmakers and advocates since the DOE is an agency he once proposed eliminating, and his belief in climate change is tempered by skepticism that humans have caused it.
- At his confirmation in January, Perry promised lawmakers he would protect the agency's dedication to research. However, according to a report in The Hill, the White House is preparing a budget proposal that would cut funding for some research to 2008 levels and eliminate departments focused on electricity, efficiency and renewables, and fossil fuels.
President Trump's cabinet nominees have been an unconventional lot, leaving lawmakers unsure of how they would lead their respective agencies. But Perry seems to be slowly winning support, though not before having to walk back his infamous pledge to eliminate the DOE.
"I don’t subscribe to the theory that only scientists can manage other scientists,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said at Perry's hearing in January, according to The Hill.
But the slow pace of nomination hearings has upset the White House, which released a statement Monday accusing Democrats of trying to "obstruct" Trump's nominees. It noted the new President has 17 nominees to head major departments or agencies waiting to be confirmed. At the same point 11 days into their terms, President Barack Obama had seven nominees waiting to be confirmed and President George W. Bush had four.
Perry told lawmakers at his confirmation hearing last month that he believes in global warming, but stopped short of embracing other mainstream beliefs such as: that humans are the cause and that the energy sector must reduce emissions.
He also said he would protect the agency's research mandate, but some news reports indicate the White House may not be on board with that. Reports indicate Trump intends to cut funding at the DOE, rolling back nuclear and advanced computing research to 2008 levels and eliminating agency departments focused on electricity, efficiency and renewables, and fossil fuels.
But Perry said that he would protect DOE research programs on renewables, fossil fuels and nuclear."I will be an advocate. I will be in the room advocating for these types of things," Perry told Senators. "I'm not going to tell you I'll be there 1000% successful in that, but I can assure you and the people who know me ... know my commitment to making sound science, economic science, connected together."