The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Nov. 8 narrowly approved Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) to be NASA administrator.
By a party-line 14-13 vote, the panel sent Bridenstine’s nomination to the full Senate for its consideration.
Before the committee vote, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the panel’s top Democrat, reiterated his opposition to having a politician lead an agency that he says has traditionally been, and should remain, nonpartisan. Nelson also said that Bridenstine lacks the management and technical expertise needed to supervise several major new efforts to send people into space.
Bridenstine pledged at his nomination hearing Nov. 1 to be an apolitical leader of the agency, saying he understands that the role of a congressman differs dramatically from that of a NASA administrator (Defense Daily, Nov. 1).
It is unclear whether the full Senate, in which Republicans have a 52 to 48 majority, will confirm Bridenstine. At least one Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), has expressed concerns similar to those of Nelson’s.