WASHINGTON — Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski joined fellow Republicans committee chairs and announced Wednesday she looks forward to considering Trump’s nomination of Rick Perry as secretary of energy in “early January.”
“I welcome the President-elect’s nomination of former Gov. Rick Perry to be Secretary of Energy. I strongly believe the leadership at this Department should have a broad understanding of the need to increase access to energy, make it more affordable, and improve environmental performance – all key factors that should drive our nation’s innovation policy,” Murkowski said in a statement. “As a former governor of Texas, Rick recognizes the economic and security benefits of technology innovation and an energy supply that is diverse, reliable, and affordable.”
Murkowski, among other Republican committee chairs, will likely face opposition from Democrats in the upper chamber over nominations coming from the Trump transition team and the choice of Perry will be no exception.
Democratic National Committee spokesman Adam Hoge said in a written statement to The Dallas Morning News that Trump’s choice of Perry is “simply incomprehensible.”
“Rick Perry has made loud and clear that he’s a climate change denier and doesn’t think that the federal government should ensure that every American has access to clear air, land, or water,” Hoge said. “These are not the qualities of someone fit to run the Energy Department and the Senate should overwhelmingly reject his nomination.”
Billionaire Democratic fundraiser and environmental activist Tom Steyer, who supported Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton for president, told Reuters Tuesday he hoped Perry’s nomination would be blocked.
“Trump no longer has to abolish departments. He can dismantle them from within,” Steyer said. “It’s now up to the Senate to defend our health, our economy and our democracy by defeating this nomination.”
The nomination of Perry immediately followed Trump’s nomination of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Sec. of State, another Trump cabinet choice Democrats are seeking ways to oppose as a result of his gas and oil business relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Corker said in a statement Tuesday that his committee plans to hold a confirmation hearing for Tillerson in “early January” as well.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley appears to be the only committee chair who currently nailed down a day as to when a Trump nominee will have a confirmation hearing. As Trump’s pick for Attorney General, Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions will face his fellow judiciary committee members on January 10.
Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons complained Tuesday the overload of committee hearings for members like himself on multiple committees will be difficult to appropriately attend.
“One of our challenges will be that many of the members serve on multiple committees. I serve on five committees. It would be quite difficult to be in the middle of confirmation hearings for Attorney General and confirmation hearings for Secretary of State at the same time and to do that process justice, so it’s my hope that we will have fair and full and open hearings so the American people can reach conclusions about these nominees and so we can have a constructive process rather than a partisan process,” he told reporters.