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Secretary of Energy plays an important role in managing cleanup at Hanford and supporting national labs such as the Tri-Cities’ Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Sen. Murray continues to have concerns about Trump Administration’s commitment to the work at Hanford & PNNL

Murray: “Getting the job should be borne of a solid understanding of the agency, a respect for the tens of thousands of workers they would lead, and most importantly, a commitment to putting families across the country first.”

*Video HERE*    

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she will be voting no on President Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Energy, Governor Rick Perry. In a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Murray outlined her concerns with his lack of experience with Department of Energy programs, and his loyalty to big oil and corporations rather than advancing our country’s energy challenges, or fighting for working families. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray is committed to making sure the federal government fulfills its legal and moral obligation to clean up Hanford in a safe and timely manner and support critical research and development conducted at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

 “Here we are again, debating yet another cabinet nominee sent over from the White House– this time, Governor Rick Perry—whose interests have been more closely aligned with those of Big Oil and corporations rather than advancing our country’s energy challenges, or fighting for the working families we represent,” said Senator Murray. “Getting the job should be borne of a solid understanding of the agency, a respect for the tens of thousands of workers they would lead, and most importantly, a commitment to putting families across the country first.  So as a voice for my home state of Washington—where DOE’s presence is extremely important—I will vote no on Governor Perry’s nomination. And I urge my colleagues to do the same.”

Senator Murray expressed her deep concern with Gov. Perry's nomination when it was announced in December. The final vote to confirm Gov. Perry is now expected as soon as today.

Excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared:

“Let me be clear. If confirmed to head up the Department of Energy, Governor Perry would join the ranks of other unqualified candidates-- chosen by this President-- to lead critically important agencies with very specific and complex functions. It’s a big job, and I believe that getting the top spot at the Department of Energy—or anywhere else in the President’s cabinet—should not simply be a prize for demonstrating loyalty during an election.”

“As I’ve told anyone elected to President—whether Democrat or Republican-- it is the federal government’s moral and legal obligation and responsibility to clean up Hanford. I know this is not an easy feat. But it’s essential. And it requires a deep understanding of a very large and complex cleanup project and a great deal of respect for the workers who show up each day to make progress on this massive project. And I remain deeply concerned Governor Perry – and this Administration – fails to grasp what’s at stake.”

“I’m also concerned that they don’t get the importance of another national asset not far from Hanford-- the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. For more than 50 years, the men and women at PNNL have been on the forefront of scientific discovery. Originally created to support research and development at Hanford—PNNL has become DOE’s premier chemistry, environmental sciences, and data analytics national lab, tackling some of our nation’s most complex and urgent challenges. PNNL is a leader in atmospheric research, nuclear detection and nonproliferation, and the nation's electric grid. And its researchers have taken on everything from high performance computing, to advanced biofuels, to analyzing lunar samples from NASA.”

“I understand Governor Perry gave his word during his confirmation hearing that he would work with us — and even to come to Washington state to visit Hanford and PNNL. And if he is confirmed by the Senate, you can bet I will hold him to that. Because one thing I’ve learned in the short 40 plus days of this Administration – we get a lot of words. But it’s the action that truly matters.”

Senator Murray’s full remarks as prepared:

Over the past two months, we have heard a lot about President Trump’s plan to “drain the swamp”— that is, to reject special interests and the corporate elite — and instead, fight for workers across this country. A whole lot of claims. A whole lot of promises. That’s all great—fighting for workers is what this Congress should be doing.

But the President’s actions speak a lot louder than his words. And I find it telling that here we are again, debating yet another cabinet nominee sent over from the White House– this time, Governor Rick Perry—whose interests have been more closely aligned with those of Big Oil and corporations rather than advancing our country’s energy challenges, or fighting for the working families we represent.

Let me be clear. If confirmed to head up the Department of Energy, Governor Perry would join the ranks of other unqualified candidates-- chosen by this President-- to lead critically important agencies with very specific and complex functions. It’s a big job, and I believe that getting the top spot at the Department of Energy—or anywhere else in the President’s cabinet—should not simply be a prize for demonstrating loyalty during an election.

Getting the job should be borne of a solid understanding of the agency, a respect for the tens of thousands of workers they would lead, and most importantly, a commitment to putting families across the country first.  So as a voice for my home state of Washington—where DOE’s presence is extremely important—I will vote no on Governor Perry’s nomination. And I urge my colleagues to do the same.

Washington state is home to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near the Tri-Cities. Nearly seventy five years ago, this region underwent a dramatic transformation— practically overnight and under top secret conditions— to help the United States win World War II, and later the Cold War. Families and workers in this region of our state sacrificed immensely for the good of our country and the safety of our world. And to this day, there is a massive environmental impact in the Tri-Cities, created by decades of nuclear weapons production.

This cleanup effort is vital—not only to the health and safety of families, workers, and the economy in Central Washington--but also for communities along the Columbia River. And as I’ve told anyone elected to President—whether Democrat or Republican-- it is the federal government’s moral and legal obligation and responsibility to clean up Hanford. I know this is not an easy feat. But it’s essential. And it requires a deep understanding of a very large and complex cleanup project and a great deal of respect for the workers who show up each day to make progress on this massive project. And I remain deeply concerned Governor Perry – and this Administration – fails to grasp what’s at stake.

I’m also concerned that they don’t get the importance of another national asset not far from Hanford-- the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. For more than 50 years, the men and women at PNNL have been on the forefront of scientific discovery. Originally created to support research and development at Hanford—PNNL has become DOE’s premier chemistry, environmental sciences, and data analytics national lab, tackling some of our nation’s most complex and urgent challenges. PNNL is a leader in atmospheric research, nuclear detection and nonproliferation, and the nation's electric grid. And its researchers have taken on everything from high performance computing, to advanced biofuels, to analyzing lunar samples from NASA.

These are critically important functions that advance our nation. Now, I have worked hard with the entire Washington Congressional delegation—not to mention a whole host of leaders at the local and state level---to support this vital research and development hub and its incredible workforce. Just like the workers at Hanford, they also deserve leaders in this Administration who respect and value their work. So if President Trump was truly looking out for workers across our country, he would take this nomination to the Energy Department very seriously.

I understand Governor Perry gave his word during his confirmation hearing that he would work with us — and even to come to Washington state to visit Hanford and PNNL. And if he is confirmed by the Senate, you can bet I will hold him to that. Because one thing I’ve learned in the short 40 plus days of this Administration – we get a lot of words. But it’s the action that truly matters. Thank you, I yield the floor.

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