The Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee voted in favor of confirming Rick Perry as secretary of the Department of Energy and Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) as secretary of the Department of the Interior on Tuesday.
Perry’s confirmation passed 16-7. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Republicans in voting in favor.
Zinke’s confirmation passed 16-6. Manchin, King, Cortez Masto, and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined Republicans in voting in favor of Zinke. No Republicans opposed either nominee.
A full Senate vote is not yet scheduled for either. Each nominee’s reception of four Democratic votes appears to give them both a relatively clear path to confirmation, considering Republicans’ 52-48 advantage in the Senate.
After the vote, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) expressed doubt that Perry would stand up to President Donald Trump when necessary, pointing to programs on climate science and the electricity grid that could have funding cuts. She also criticized Trump’s lack of communication with executive agencies on his recent immigration ban.
“If you can have somebody at the Department of Defense who’s not even consulted on a security memorandum, where is that going to leave Secretary Perry on these issues of nuclear security as well?” Cantwell asked.
In addition to the Perry and Zinke votes, the committee approved leaders for its four subcommittees. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) will lead the subcommittee on energy, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) will lead the subcommittee on public lands, forests, and mining, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) will lead the subcommittee on national parks, and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) will lead the subcommittee on water and power.