WASHINGTON – The Senate confirmed on Monday Dan Brouillette, a former Ford Motor Company lobbyist, President Trump's second energy secretary, replacing Rick Perry, who was involved in the impeachment case against Trump.
The senators voted 70 to 15 in favor of Brouillette's confirmation. Several Democrats, including Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Tom Udall of New Mexico, and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, joined the Republicans to approve him.
Since 2017, Brouillette is Perry's second-in-command in the Department of Energy. He put pressure on the Trump administration's "energy domain" policy, which includes the rapid expansion of oil and gas drilling and the strengthening of US fossil fuel exports.
"I'm proud to have been a small part of the incredible success we saw in American energy," Brouillette told lawmakers at the Senate confirmation hearing in November.
While Brouillette passed a confirmation vote before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last month, lawmakers on Monday criticized him for not answering questions about Perry's business in Ukraine.
Oregon Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden said on Monday that Brouillette "failed to provide substantial answers to key questions about Perry's business." He considered Brouillette's lack of response a "total obstacle to court."
Other Democrats came in defense of Brouillette.
"He's in this huge task. He's a good man," said Manchin.
Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, praised Mr. Perry and Mr. Brouillette. He said he expects to see continued increases in funding from Department of Energy research centers such as the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in his state.
"He understands the important work being done there," said Alexander.
Brouillette has vowed to fight for the Department of Energy's budget, although the government has in the past proposed to cut some of the agency's programs by more than half and eliminate major research and development programs, such as the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy. Most of the department's budget goes to research, development, maintenance and cleaning of nuclear weapons.
He also followed a thin line on climate change. Brouillette described planetary warming as "something we need to work onBut questioned the scientific consensus that climate change poses a serious threat. He has provided statistics that show US emissions have fallen 13 percent since 2005, but he is also critical of the Paris Accord, a promise among almost every country to reduce emissions that Trump intends to abandon next November.
Brouillette argued that reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the United States are being offset by rising emissions in China.
Replacing Perry, Brouillette becomes the latest lobbyist and second-in-command experienced to assume the position of high-profile, embattled cabinet secretary.
Last year Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who served as deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under Scott Pruitt, took over when Pruitt resigned amid ethics scandals. David Bernhardt, an oil and gas lobbyist, served as deputy to Ryan Zinke, first secretary of Trump's Interior Department, and took the top position when Zinke left, also facing ethics investigations.
Perry, a former Texas governor who once adopted the abolition of the Department of Energy, largely avoided the scandal, and Trump has considered it several times in other senior management positions. Perry returned to admiration, recently saying that Trump was "ordained by God”To lead the country.
But in recent weeks, Perry has emerged as an actor in impeachment proceedings against Trump, facing scrutiny about his role in promoting energy exports to Ukraine and whether he was involved in withholding military aid to the country.
Sunday was Mr. Perry's last day in office, and he released a farewell video saying that his service as energy secretary was a "wonderful and fabulous trip". He applauded his country's status as the world's largest producer of oil and gas.
Prior to becoming deputy energy secretary, Brouillette was chief of staff of the House Energy and Trade Committee and was deputy energy secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs under the George W. Bush administration.
He has also served as an executive at United Services Automobile Association, an army member financial services provider, and at Ford Motor Company. He has been a member of the Louisiana State Board of Energy and Minerals.
Mr. Brouillette is a native of Louisiana and graduated from the University of Maryland. He and his wife, Adrienne, are US Army veterans and longtime Republican donors. According to OpenSecrets.org, a website that monitors money in politics, Brouillette and his wife gave the Republican National Committee $ 30,000 in 2012 and more than $ 50,000 to Republican candidates, including Perry, between 2005 and 2016.
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