The Latest: Perry sworn in as energy secretary

WASHINGTON — The Latest on President Donald Trump's Cabinet nominations (all times local):

6:25 p.m.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been sworn in as President Donald Trump's energy secretary.

Perry was approved by the Senate earlier Thursday by a 62-37 vote. He was sworn in at the White House by Vice President Mike Pence.

Perry — who once pledged to eliminate the Energy Department — has repeatedly promised to 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.

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6:00 p.m.

Ben Carson has been sworn in as the next secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The retired neurosurgeon and Republican presidential candidate was confirmed by the Senate earlier Thursday.

Vice President Mike Pence says he is confident that Carson will "open doors of opportunity" to some of the most vulnerable in the country.

Carson's selection for the position raised eyebrows because he never held public office and has no experience in housing or development issues. But he earned President Donald Trump's respect and confidence during the campaign.

Republicans have also praised his life story. Carson grew up in inner-city Detroit and rose to the highest ranks of the medical profession.

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4:35 p.m.

Senators have cleared President Donald Trump's nominee to run Medicare and Medicaid for a final floor vote.

The Finance Committee approved Indiana health care consultant Seema Verma on a party line vote Thursday, 13-12.

Verma would head the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, an agency that oversees health insurance programs covering more than 130 million Americans. Known as CMS, it's also responsible for administering the Obama-era health care law that Trump has vowed to repeal and replace.

She's a protégé of Vice President Mike Pence, after designing a Medicaid expansion along conservative lines for Indiana when he was governor. Her consulting business has about a dozen staffers, and if confirmed, she would run an agency with nearly 6,500 employees.

Verma is expected to act as a liaison to governors.

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2:15 p.m.

The Senate has confirmed former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to serve as energy secretary under President Donald Trump.

The vote was 62-37 on Thursday.

Perry — who once pledged to eliminate the department — 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.

Democrats say they accept Perry's disavowal of his 2011 pledge to abolish the Energy Department. But they're worried he may not stand up to GOP proposals to slash the department's budget.

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11:10 a.m.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry cleared a Senate hurdle in his bid to become Energy secretary in the Trump administration.

The vote on Thursday was 62-37 to move ahead on the nomination.

At his confirmation hearing, Perry vowed to be an advocate for an agency he once pledged to eliminate and promised to rely on federal scientists, including those who work on climate change.

Perry served 14 years at Texas governor. He said he was for "all of the above" on energy production, from oil and gas to renewable sources like wind and solar power, before former President Barack Obama embraced the strategy.

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10:40 a.m.

The Senate has confirmed retired neurosurgeon and former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson as housing secretary.

The vote was 58-41.

Carson will lead an agency of some 8,300 employees and a budget of about $47 billion.

Carson has no government or housing policy experience. Despite that, his nomination cleared a Senate committee in January on a unanimous vote. Republicans praised his life story as inspiring. Carson grew up in inner-city Detroit with a single mother who had a third-grade education. Democrats welcomed Carson's promises to address homelessness, lead hazards in housing, and other issues.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development oversees billions of dollars in housing assistance to low-income people. It also enforces fair housing laws and offers mortgage insurance to poorer Americans.

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