WASHINGTON, DC — The Senate confirmed retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson as housing secretary and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as energy secretary Thursday.
Carson also ran for president in the GOP primary in 2016. His name had been attached to multiple cabinet-level positions throughout the transition process. His aide Armstrong Williams said he turned down Health and Human Services secretary due to lack of experience running a federal agency.
“He’s never run an agency and it’s a lot to ask. He’s a neophyte and that’s not his strength,” Williams said.
Carson will lead a department that has more than 8,000 employees and a budget of about $47 billion.
Perry, a two-time presidential candidate, began as a harsh critic of Trump during the 2016 race.
During his first White House run, Perry couldn’t remember in a debate the third of three federal agencies he promised to eliminate if elected. The one he forgot was the Energy Department.
The vote was 62-37 on Thursday in favor of his confirmation. Perry has repeatedly promised be an advocate for the agency and to protect the nation’s nuclear stockpile. Perry also has said he’d rely on federal scientists, including those who work on climate change.
Perry has said he’ll work to develop American energy in all forms — from oil, gas and nuclear power to renewable sources such as wind and solar power.