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Heinrich votes against Perry for DOE secretary

U. S. Sen. Martin Heinrich speaks to a joint session of the New Mexico Legislature on Monday. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

U. S. Sen. Martin Heinrich speaks to a joint session of the New Mexico Legislature on Monday. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

Sen. Martin Heinrich today opposed the nomination of Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy, which oversees work at New Mexico’s nuclear laboratories.

Perry’s nomination cleared the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Commitee today on a 16-7 vote and the former Texas governor is almost certain to be confirmed by the full Senate.

Heinrich’s vote is not surprising considering that he described Perry as “utterly unqualified” to lead DOE when President Trump announced his nomination. But the “nay” vote puts the New Mexico senator further at odds with the likely DOE chief before he even starts the job.

“Since the Trump Administration took office, we have seen executive order after executive order that ignores the will of the American people,” Heinrich said. “While Gov. Perry walked back his intent to eliminate the Department of Energy, the Trump Administration almost simultaneously floated plans for deep budget cuts that threaten critical missions there. ”

Heinrich noted that Defense Secretary Mike Mattis told Congress he opposed banning Muslim immigrants and CIA Director Mike Pompeo said he opposed torture but the Trump administration has “moved forward with both.” Heinrich questioned if Perry, who voiced support for the DOE mission and that of the national labs, specifically, during his confirmation hearing, will back that up with action.

“I appreciate Governor Perry’s responsiveness and acknowledge that this nominee will move forward and that I want – and we all need – him to be successful,” Heinrich said. “But his past statements on eliminating the department, an unwillingness to commit to the applied energy research and climate science done at our national labs and universities, and the transition team questionnaire that attacked the integrity of climate scientists all signal where the Trump Administration is headed.

“Given these troubling signs, paired with Trump nominees thus far having said one thing and the Administration doing another, I cannot give Governor Perry the benefit of the doubt.  With 25,000  New Mexicans contributing to these important Department of Energy missions, we cannot have any doubts about a nominee’s willingness or ability to defend the agency and its work.”