The controversial nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) to be NASA administrator has been returned to the White House, a congressional aide said Jan. 3.
The move came after key senators, including Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), an influential voice on space matters, objected to the idea of having a politician run what has traditionally been a nonpartisan agency.
Nelson, the ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, also said that Bridenstine lacks the management and technical expertise needed to supervise several major new efforts to send people into space.
It is unclear whether President Donald Trump will resubmit the nomination to the Senate or pick someone else. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
The Commerce Committee approved Bridenstine in November by a narrow 14 to 13 vote (Defense Daily, Nov. 8, 2017). The full Senate did not take up the nomination.
At a committee hearing on his nomination, Bridenstine pledged to run NASA in an apolitical manner (Defense Daily, Nov. 1, 2017). His supporters said that his congressional knowledge would be an asset by helping him gain passage of appropriations and authorization legislation.