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Committee sends Rick Perry's energy secretary nomination to full Senate

A powerful Senate committee backed Rick Perry's confirmation on Tuesday, clearing the way for full Senate approval in the coming weeks.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry testifies before a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on his nomination to be Energy secretary at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on January 19, 2017.

WASHINGTON — Rick Perry is one step closer to serving in the Trump Cabinet. 

A majority of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee on Tuesday backed Perry's confirmation as the new Secretary of Energy. The full Senate will vote on the Perry nomination in the coming weeks, and he is likely to win approval.

President Donald Trump appointed Perry to the post in December, and Perry put in a strong performance at the committee hearing last week. His nomination sailed through the panel with a 16-7 vote, which included the backing of four Democratic senators. 

Perry's nomination has so far proven to be the least contentious of the early Trump administration.

Notably, Perry calmed the waters with Senate Democrats. In his testimony, Perry said he believed human activity affects climate change and that he no longer wanted to abolish the Department of Energy, a campaign promise from his 2012 presidential campaign. 

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the second-highest-ranking Republican senator, immediately released a statement in support of the move. 

“Under Rick Perry’s leadership, Texas experienced innovative growth in our energy sector, which translated to more jobs and lower prices for families across our state," Cornyn said. "I’m confident he’ll replicate this success at a national level and help launch the next great era in American energy production.

“I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to get him confirmed and on the job as soon as possible.”

As part of the Department of Energy, Perry will be responsible for maintaining the security of the country's nuclear weapons. During his confirmation hearing, Perry vowed repeatedly to "modernize the nation's nuclear stockpile." What that will mean under the Trump administration remains to be seen, as President Trump has indicated he wants to “expand” America’s nuclear arsenal and has said he is willing to restart a nuclear arms race.

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