Energy Secretary Rick Perry was grilled in three congressional committee hearings this week about proposed cuts to the Department of Energy for 2018.

During testimony before the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday, Perry seemed to distance himself from President Trump’s budget, which cuts DOE funding by 5.6 percent or $1.7 billion.

“I got here on the second day of March, and that budget was already written,” Perry said. “My job is to sit here in front of you and robustly defend it, which is what I’m doing.”

President Trump’s 2018 budget plan would eliminate some DOE programs, including the Advance Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which funds research into energy-efficient windows. ARPA-E would end in 2019. The budget would also get rid of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which helps low-income families improve the energy efficiency of their homes, and the State Energy Program, which provides funds for upgrades such as new windows for lower-income households.

Additionally, the budget proposal cuts funding for the Building Technologies Office (BTO) from $160 million to $107 million. BTO does work to improve efficiency in homes and buildings. BTO also does research and technical work that helps states and local governments develop stronger efficiency codes for homes and buildings.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chair of the Senate Energy Appropriations committee, told Perry on Wednesday that Congress is prepared to preserve ARPA-E. Alexander also said cutting DOE’s budget will harm America’s global competitiveness in high-tech industries, adding that it’s not a department that’s driving huge government deficits.

“The Department of Energy’s research programs have made the United States a world leader in science and technology, and these programs will help the United States maintain its brainpower advantage to remain competitive at a time when other countries are investing heavily in research,” Alexander said. “Mandatory spending, which amounts to more than 60 percent of federal spending, is the cause of the nearly $20 trillion federal debt. The federal debt is not the result of Congress overspending on science and energy research each year.”

As for the weatherization program, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) asked Perry on Tuesday during his appearance before the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee why the administration wants to get rid of it. Perry acknowledged that the program could end up being preserved.

“This is the first step in a long process,” Perry said. “I was a governor long enough to know that governors’ budgets don’t always come back to you the way that they start.”

Perry also said he’s looking forward to hearing ideas about cuts to the DOE’s Building Technologies Office.

Also on Wednesday, Perry and Sen. Al Franken (R-Minn.) had a contentious exchange over global warming during another subcommittee hearing.

Franken, citing several studies on climate change, told Perry that the science on the issue is settled.

“If you say that this is caused by the warming of the oceans, the reason the oceans are warming is because water absorbs the heat, that’s why the sea level is rising,” he said. “There is no peer-reviewed study that doesn’t say this is happening.”

Perry, who had been calm during the hearing, seemed angered by that contention.

“Global warming was 100 percent due to human activity?” he said, his voice rising. “I don’t believe that. One hundred percent? Every bit of that global warming? I don’t buy it. To stand up and say that 100 percent of global warming is because of human activity, I think on its face, is just indefensible.”

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