The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has favorably reported the nomination of Dan Brouillette to be the next secretary of energy, quickly clearing an early hurdle.

The committee, led by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, voted 16-4 Tuesday morning. Opening the meeting, Murkowski said she "strongly" supported Brouillette – currently the deputy secretary of energy – as a nominee.

The energy and natural resources panel held a nomination hearing for Brouillette last week. The deputy secretary received bipartisan backing and faced little probing and resistance.

President Donald Trump on Nov. 7 tapped Brouillette to replace Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, who plans to leave the cabinet Dec. 1. Perry has said he's returning to his favorite place in the world: Texas, where he was once governor.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has said Trump picked a successor wisely. Manchin is the top Democrat on the committee.

Brouillette will need to be confirmed by the full Senate before taking the No. 1 spot at the Department of Energy, a multibillion-dollar agency overseeing energy manufacturing, supercomputing and nuclear weapons work, among other ventures.

The Energy Department's nuclear cleanup office, Environmental Management, stewards the Savannah River Site south of Aiken.

Brouillette on Twitter had asked for "favorable consideration" following his warm nomination hearing.

"If fortunate enough to be confirmed," he tweeted, "I am committed to working together to address the energy, environment, and security challenges that lie ahead."

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, voted by proxy against Brouillette.

Colin Demarest covers the Savannah River Site, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration and government in general. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin