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.
He was a harsh critic of Trump, even calling the businessman a “cancer to conservatism,” but Perry lasted only three months in the race for the 2016 nomination before dropping out.
Perry has drawn criticism from some environmental activists because he is on the board of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the company trying to build a 1,200-mile Dakota Access pipeline that would carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. The pipeline has sparked protests that have made national headlines.
Perry also serves on the board of another energy firm, Sunoco Logistics Partners.