The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed Mark Menezes as the deputy secretary of energy, effectively filling a top post at the Department of Energy that’s been vacant for months.
The bipartisan approval, 79-16, came weeks after Menezes, previously the under secretary of energy, secured a favorable report from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Both Republican senators from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, voted in favor of his nomination.
Once sworn in, Menezes will take the reins as the second-in-command at the Energy Department, which oversees the Savannah River Site south of Aiken and the weapons-focused National Nuclear Security Administration.
Graham in June said he planned to address at length the standing and future of SRS with Menezes before voting.
“I know Mark,” he quipped at the time.
Menezes in a statement Tuesday said he was “honored” by the opportunity and trust.
Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette – who was the deputy secretary under Rick Perry’s DOE leadership – congratulated Menezes on Twitter and in a separate statement said he was “very pleased” with the vote. NNSA chief Lisa Gordon-Hagerty expressed similar support: “Your leadership at our department has helped bring our nation back as a global leader in energy.”
Menezes has pledged to work alongside Brouillette and to champion energy, supercomputing, the various national labs scattered across the U.S., including Savannah River National Lab, and “a strong national defense through a modern and dynamic National Nuclear Security Administration.”
Trump tapped Menezes to be the No. 2 at the Energy Department earlier this year. In May, Menezes breezed through a confirmation hearing, facing little resistance and garnering well-wishes.
Brouillette in January informally deputized Menezes – a Louisiana State University graduate and former executive with Berkshire Hathaway Energy and American Electric Power – by delegating him authority to direct the Energy Department’s operations, save for the semiautonomous NNSA.
Exactly when Menezes will be sworn in is unclear; the Energy Department on Tuesday said it would happen at a later date.