WASHINGTON -- The Senate voted 70-15 on Monday evening to confirm Dan Brouillette to succeed Rick Perry as secretary of the Department of Energy.
President Donald Trump nominated Brouillette, a long-time Republican donor and former business executive for Ford Motor Co. and USAA who worked at the Energy Department during the George W. Bush administration, after Perry said in October he would step down.
Brouillette, currently the deputy secretary, will take over one of the most technically complicated departments in the federal bureaucracy, where he will be responsible for nuclear waste cleanup, nuclear weapons safety and the country's 17 national laboratories.
Speaking before the vote, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, praised Brouillette's work as Perry's deputy. "He has made a good impression on just about everyone, and he is a great choice to replace Secretary Perry," she said.
The Senate confirmed Brouillette to be deputy secretary in 2017 by a 79-17 vote.
"Rick has done a fantastic job," Trump said when announcing Perry's departure. "But it was time."
That resignation announcement coincided with growing interest in Perry's involvement in Trump's efforts to compel the Ukrainian government to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, in exchange for U.S. military aid.
Those forays are central to House Democrats' impeachment inquiry.
As secretary, Perry met in Washington and Ukraine with executives of Naftogaz, a state-run energy firm there, and said he sought to place Americans on its board.
Appearing Nov. 20 in an open session before the House Intelligence Committee, Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, said he worked with Perry and special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker on Ukraine issues "at the express direction" of Trump.