The U.S. Senate voted to confirm Rick Perry as secretary of energy on Thursday afternoon, putting the longest-serving governor in Texas history into Donald Trump’s administration.
Perry, who once wanted to abolish the Department of Energy during his 2012 presidential run, was confirmed by a vote of 62-37.
Perry’s nomination was never in serious doubt, although a majority of Senate Democrats voted against his nomination as a show of disapproval to Trump’s agenda during his first month in office.
The 66-year-old Perry will oversee the nation’s nuclear program, energy research and physical science research. Perry, a career politician, brings executive management experience to the department but lacks the academic background of most of his predecessors in the position.
Members of Texas’ Congressional delegation, many who worked with Perry for years, were quick to offer their support.
“I have known Governor Perry since we were classmates at Texas A&M,” said Texas Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, the longest serving member of Texas’ congressional delegation, in a statement. “We have since worked hand in hand on countless projects and I am sure our relationship will grow even stronger over the coming months and years as we work to return the Department of Energy to its core mission and reduce waste. Welcome to Washington, Mr. Secretary. I could not be more proud to have a friend, Texan, and Aggie at the helm of the Department of Energy.”
“After years of running one of the nation’s most prolific state economies, Governor Perry will bring overdue reform to the Department of Energy to make the federal agency work for the people and no longer its own interests,” said Republican Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, in a statement. “I have great faith that Governor Perry is the best candidate to carry out President Trump’s vision to make America energy independent. Congratulations to our former Governor of the great state of Texas.”
“Congrats to my friend Governor Perry, another Texan in POTUS’ cabinet is good for all of America,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said in a tweet. “A fitting touch to Texas Independence Day.”
Perry, who said in his confirmation hearing he will fight potential massive cuts to the Energy Department, faces questions from certain segments of the scientific community.
“We still don’t have details on how the department’s scientific integrity policy will be implemented under Secretary Perry’s leadership,” said Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, in a statement. “The questionnaire President Trump’s transition team sent to DOE—and then walked back—attempting to ferret out who works on climate change put scientists on high alert. They will be watching the department closely and speaking up loudly if agency scientists are targeted or scientific programs weakened.”
Perry joins secretary of state Rex Tillerson as Texans in Trump’s Cabinet. Tillerson was confirmed in February.