If confirmed by the Senate, Perry will run an agency he once wanted to eliminate. During a 2011 Republican presidential debate, Perry infamously said that he would get rid of three federal agencies if elected, but could only name the Commerce and Education Departments. After fumbling for several minutes, Perry concluded his remarks with an “oops.” Some 15 minutes later, he told the audience that the third agency was in fact the Department of Energy.
Perry’s role as secretary of energy would primarily involve overseeing an agency that designs nuclear weapons and maintains the nation’s nuclear arsenal. President Barack Obama’s energy secretary, nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz, played a pivotal role in negotiating the United States’ nuclear deal with Iran.
As NBC reported, Perry is on the board of directors of Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. The project has sparked a months-long protest by several tribal nations and environmental activists, and Perry’s involvement would likely be a major topic of discussion in his confirmation hearings.
Perry served as governor of the Lone Star state from 2000-2015, and dropped out of this year’s Republican presidential primaries in late 2015 after failing to gain traction in the polls.
He was initially a vocal critic of Trump, calling him a “cancer on conservatism” and “sower of division” who would “lead the Republican Party to perdition.” After Trump emerged as the GOP nominee, Perry changed his tune, campaigning on his behalf and defending the President-elect’s attacks on a Gold Star family.
Perry most recently took a star turn as a cast member on ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars.”
This post has been updated.