Joe Manchin gets to keep his seat in the Senate after all, if CBS’ Major Garrett is correct. Former Texas governor and one-time presidential contender Rick Perry will head up the Department of Energy, a Cabinet agency he once pledged to shut down. The decision was made quickly, as Perry was a late contender for the post, Garrett reports:
Donald Trump has selected Rick Perry to be energy secretary, according to two sources directly involved in the transition and selection process.
He had been summoned to Trump Tower for a meeting Monday to discuss the position after having been contacted over the weekend. The meeting was only finalized on Sunday.
The other contenders for the position were Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Ray Washburne, a key Trump fundraiser, former RNC finance chair, restaurateur and investor in oil and gas operations.
NBC’s Hallie Jackson and Kristin Welker also report that Perry got the nod:
President-elect Donald Trump has selected former Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who famously once forgot that he wanted to abolish the Energy Department — to be secretary of energy, two sources familiar with the transition process told NBC News on Monday night. …
As governor, Perry championed the oil industry, questioning science that shows that greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change and deriding what he called “the secular carbon cult.”
At a presidential town hall in 2011, he said, “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.”
Assuming everyone’s reporting is accurate, Perry will fit well into a Cabinet that seems designed to make a sharp turn toward domestic energy production and exports, too. ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson has already been officially named as Secretary of State, Cathy McMorris Rodgers will head up Interior, and Scott Pruitt will go from plaintiff against the EPA to running the agency. All four of those nominees want much more leeway to produce energy at home, whether it’s oil drilling, natural gas fracking, or coal mining, or all three.
Perry fits in another way, too. Perry ran for the presidency on the express desire to reduce Washington’s footprint in the states and in individual lives, offering a bold transformation from the Barack Obama years of increasing executive authority. Despite mixed signals during the campaign, Trump has built a Cabinet of that same devolution-of-authority tenor. It also seems clear that Perry, Pruitt, and McMorris Rodgers will work together well enough to carry out a broad policy of deregulation.
Small wonder that Trump’s selections have even some of his conservative skeptics pleased:
With two-thirds of his Cabinet filled out and many of his cabinet-level appointments selected, Trump has united his party far more successfully as president-elect with a series of standard-fare picks than he ever did as a candidate — even at the risk of backlash from supporters for failing to drain the swamp of Washington.
“I’m liking what I see,” said Norm Coleman, former Republican senator and a current lobbyist who did not support Trump. “For someone who wasn’t on the train, he’s putting together a pretty good team.” …
Vice President-elect Mike Pence has emerged as a key power center in the still-forming administration, after replacing Gov. Chris Christie days after the election as chairman of the transition. His ascent has relieved social conservatives in particular who worried about Trump and Christie’s devotion to their issues.
“I’m trying not to be too giddy tonight,” said Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint, a leader of the conservative movement, as he introduced Pence at a D.C. event this week.
What about “draining the swamp”? Some of the people selected may come from the swamp itself, as defined by the populists who lifted Trump to the presidency, especially on Trump’s economic team. Putting two Goldman Sachs execs on the team certainly raised eyebrows after Trump’s campaign rhetoric. But the appointments in key regulatory offices — Pruitt, Perry, and Tom Price at HHS especially — promise a clearing of the bureaucratic swamp and a power drain from Washington DC to the states. That would be a remarkable accomplishment, made all the easier thanks to Obama’s autocratic approach to governance since losing the House in 2010.
In that sense, Perry fits right into this Cabinet. He may yet fulfill that promise to dismantle much of the Department of Energy.