The U.S. Senate on Thursday (March 2) 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 become 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.
His predecessor, Obama Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, was a nuclear physicist who led technical negotiations in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, while the previous head, Steven Chu, was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist.
The former Texas governor said during his confirmation hearing earlier this year that he regretted having previously called for the department’s elimination during his failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.