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What Exactly Does the Department of Energy Do, and Is Rick Perry Qualified to Lead It?

Today, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry goes before the U.S. Senate for his confirmation hearing in the hopes of becoming the next secretary of the Department of Energy. Of course, Perry famously derailed his presidential bid in 2011 by forgetting the department’s name even as he vowed to abolish it in a GOP primary debate. But, while the former governor may have been – and, according to a New York Times report , may still be – fuzzy on the agency's purview, he is certainly not the only one.

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President-elect Donald Trump plans to hit the ground running. He could sign his first executive orders within hours of taking the oath of office.

"I've asked my transition team to develop a list of executive actions we can take on Day One to restore our laws and bring back our jobs," Trump said in a videotaped message in November. "It's about time."

Vice President-elect Mike Pence echoed that message in a meeting with reporters on Thursday.

"Our job is to be ready on Day One," Pence said. "We are all ready to go to work."

"The Oath." It sounds like the name of a book, and indeed, there have been many volumes with that name. But none more relevant this week than The Oath specified in the Constitution for the president of the United States when he takes office.

The 35 words in Article II, Section I, of the Constitution read as follows:

"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Shortly before Donald Trump takes the oath of office on Friday, Mike Pence will put his hand on Ronald Reagan's Bible and be sworn in as vice president. It's a job that has varied in influence from administration to administration. So how will Pence cut his path?

President-elect Donald Trump takes office on Friday having largely failed to address concerns about the many conflicts of interest posed by his business interests.

Although Trump has settled a few of the outstanding legal and regulatory disputes hanging over him, he remains in the unusual position of presiding over countless policy decisions that will affect his own businesses.

Barack Obama took to the podium in the press briefing room on Wednesday, the second-to-last day of the first black presidency, and after eight years of that becoming increasingly normal, the moment made it all start to seem strange again. So this whole black leader-of-the-free-world thing really happened, huh?

Just over ten weeks after the idea was first proposed in a Facebook post, tens of thousands of protesters are heading to the nation's capital for the Woman's March on Washington on Saturday.

Similar marches are planned in more than 600 other cities and towns around the world. But the largest is expected to take place in Washington, D.C., less than 24 hours into the presidency of Donald Trump.

Standing on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon, Simon Tam, the bassist and frontman of the Asian-American rock group The Slants, was fired up. He'd just watched as most of the eight justices questioned whether the government should back his right to use his band's name, which is a racial slur.

"If the government really truly cared about fighting racist messages they would have canceled the registrations for numerous white supremacist groups before they even approached our case," he told a crowd of reporters.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Even Rick Perry changes his mind.

At his confirmation hearing as President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Secretary of Energy, the former Texas governor said he no longer wants to do away with the department he once said should be eliminated.

Or, at least, that was something he tried to say.

In 2011, during one of his presidential campaign debates, Perry could only remember the names of two of the three agencies he wanted get rid of. The third agency is the very one he was chosen by Trump to head.

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Weekly Features

Lawyers, Advocates Look for Gaps in Service for Children on Developmental Disability Program

About a month ago, cuts to a state Medicaid program providing therapy to children with disabilities and developmental delays went into effect. Child advocates have warned the cuts would put access to care in jeopardy and, as the cuts continue roll out, both lawyers and advocates are keeping an eye out for children who are experiencing gaps in care.

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