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The Energy Department appeared to confound former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
According to a report from The New York Times published on Wednesday, when President-elect Donald Trump tapped Perry as energy secretary, Perry had a different idea about what the job entailed.
Perry was under the impression that he would be taking on an ambassador role for the US oil and gas industries, according to The Times. In fact, a majority of the job involves overseeing the country’s nuclear weapons, in addition to researching new methods of creating energy.
“If you asked him on that first day he said yes, he would have said, ‘I want to be an advocate for energy,'” Michael McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist, told The Times. McKenna was also an adviser to Perry during the former governor’s 2016 presidential campaign.
“If you asked him now, he’d say, ‘I’m serious about the challenges facing the nuclear complex,'” McKenna said. “It’s been a learning curve.”
About 68% of the department’s fiscal 2016 budget is dedicated to maintaining nuclear weapons across the country’s network of holding facilities. Another 28% of the department’s funding is spent on research and development for cleaner and more efficient ways to produce and use energy.
Perry was a critic of the department when he ran for president in 2012 and famously forgot its name during a presidential debate when listing government agencies he would eliminate.
If confirmed by the Senate, Perry would succeed Ernest Moniz, who chaired the physics department at MIT.
Moniz told The Times that under President Barack Obama’s administration, the department has worked on refurbishing its nuclear weapons instead of modernizing them as other nations like China and Russia have done.
It is unclear in what direction Trump’s administration would take the department, although the president-elect has advocated nuclear proliferation.
Perry’s confirmation hearing with the Senate Energy Committee is set for Thursday.