Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry received a favorable recommendation from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, paving the way for his nomination as Donald Trump’s secretary of energy.
Perry, who is widely expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks, received the support of four senators who caucus with Democrats: Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and independent Angus King of Maine.
Seven senators who caucus with Democrats opposed the nomination, including Al Franken of Minnesota and independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
“I looked at his record in Texas energy, in which there were events of wind energy . . . but he also spent much of his agenda trying to add 11 new coal plants and suing the EPA at every chance he could,” said Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, who opposed Perry’s nomination.
Every Republican on the committee supported the nomination. The final vote was 16-7.
Cantwell voiced concern after Perry’s vote over the Trump administration’s desire to eliminate certain offices in the Energy Department, which Democrats say is a political attack on climate change research.
“The electricity efficiency and energy efficiency programs that have been supported by the last two administrations are now in question,” Cantwell said.
During his confirmation hearing earlier in January, Perry had said he would fight proposed cuts to the department by the Trump administration.
“How can we pursue an all-of-the-above strategy if so much of the department’s . . . capabilities are eliminated? Do you support those cuts?” Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii asked during the hearing.
“Maybe they’ll have the same experience I had and forget that they said that,” Perry said.
Perry, who did not offer public remarks on Tuesday, also said he regretted 2011 statements in which he’d advocated abolishing the Energy Department.
During a debate in that year’s Republican presidential primary, Perry forgot to name the Energy Department as one of three federal agencies he would eliminate if elected.
“It’s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone: Commerce, Education, and the uh . . . what’s the third one, there? Let’s see . . . The third one. I can’t,” Perry said, adding, “Oops.”
Perry’s recommendation now will head to the Senate floor, where some Democrats have vowed to delay Trump’s Cabinet nominees until he reverses or revises an executive order that temporarily bars immigrants, refugees and visitors from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States.