Trump Cabinet Appointees Clear Key Confirmation Hurdle

(Christopher Halloran /

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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A key Senate committee voted overwhelmingly to send President Donald Trump’s appointees to head the Departments of Energy and Interior to the next step in the confirmation process.

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources voted 16 to 7 in favor of confirming former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as energy secretary, and 16 to 6 to confirm Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke as interior secretary.

The entire Senate can now vote on whether or not to confirm Perry and Zinke. Both Trump appointees are expected to win Senate approval, since only a simple majority is needed for confirmation.

Perry and Zinke were considered relatively uncontroversial nominees. Perry, however, was attacked for previously saying he’d eliminate the Energy Department — a position he denounced during his Senate confirmation hearing.

“My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking,” Perry told lawmakers. “In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”

Both Perry and Zinke gave boilerplate answers when pressed by Democratic lawmakers on their views of global warming — humans play a role, but there are lots of scientific uncertainties left to deal with.

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