Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry will play a major role in maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal if he's confirmed as Energy secretary, and his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Thursday came at a critical time.
The U.S. Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration is tasked with guarding the safety and integrity of the nation's nuclear weapons. Two-thirds of the agency's budget is dedicated to this task and to cleaning up nuclear energy and weapons testing sites.
The United States is seeking to modernize the infrastructure around its aging nuclear arsenal at a projected cost of $1 trillion over 30 years. At the same time, the country remains at an impasse over what to do about nuclear waste that is currently stored throughout the nation.
Here is how he addressed those issues and others on Thursday.