Senate confirms Trump pick Perry as
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[March 03, 2017]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S.
Senate on Thursday voted to confirm President Donald Trump's pick to
head the Department of Energy, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has
promised to renew America’s nuclear weapons arsenal.
Perry's rise to America’s top energy official came against opposition
from Democrats worried about his ties to oil companies, his doubts about
the science of climate change, and the fact that he once called for the
department’s total elimination – a comment he has since said he regrets.
The Senate voted 62 to 37 in support of Perry.
Perry, 66, was governor of Texas from 2000 to 2015, making him the
longest-serving governor of the oil-producing state in its history.
As energy secretary, Perry would lead a vast scientific research
operation credited with helping trigger a U.S. drilling boom and
advancements in energy efficiency and renewables technology, and would
oversee America's nuclear arsenal.
In his Senate confirmation hearing, Perry said much of his focus running
the department would be in renewing the country's nuclear weapons
arsenal. Trump wants to ensure the arsenal is at "the top of the pack"
and said the United States had fallen behind in its nuclear weapons
Democratic lawmakers expressed worry Perry would weaken the department's
functions and potentially target its army of scientists focused on
climate and clean energy research. Perry sought to reassure them saying
he would protect scientists and the growing renewable energy industry.
Democratic Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, a senior Democrat on the Senate
Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Perry had failed to
persuade him he would push back against Trump administration plans to
cut the department's budget and focus on clean energy R&D.
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Former Texas Governor Rick Perry is sworn in before testifying at a
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on his
nomination to be Energy secretary on Capitol Hill in Washington,
U.S., January 19, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
"As Trump is threatening to slash DOE’s budget, Gov. Perry hasn’t
convinced me he’s up to the task of creating those jobs and putting
points on the board in the fight against climate change,” Wyden
Republican Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, chair of the energy
committee, said Perry would be "a strong partner as we focus on
everything from reducing rural energy costs to advancing the Alaska
(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici and Timothy Gardner; Writing by
Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Andrew Hay)
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