Politics

Trump Names His Pick To Head NASA Among A Slate Of Nominees For Key Roles

The White House announced a group of 42 people Friday that President Trump plans to appoint to key roles such as ambassador to Germany and head of the nation’s space agency.

The Trump administration continues, albeit slowly, to fill key government positions. The president has been facing slow Senate confirmations. As of early August, the Senate took 54 days on average to confirm a nominee compared to 41 days for Obama and 35 days for President George W. Bush.

Among the people announced Friday are two sitting congressmen.

Trump intends to nominate Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino to become director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Marino was an early supporter of the Trump campaign and previously served as the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. He handily won the congressional seat he currently holds.

The other congressman is Republican Oklahoma Rep. James Bridenstine. The president intends to nominate Rep. Bridenstine to serve as administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This announcement brought criticism from Florida lawmakers.

Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson told Politico, “The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician.” The most relevant experience Bridenstine has for the job is that he serves on the Science Space and Technology Committee. The congressman also served as a navy pilot and then executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium.

Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told Politico he shares “the same concerns” as Nelson, and said, “It’s the one federal mission which has largely been free of politics and it’s at a critical juncture in its history.”

President Trump also announced a slate of nominees for ambassadorships. This included naming former U.N. spokesman Richard Grenell to serve as America’s envoy to Germany. Grenell is a prominent conservative commentator and served as Mitt Romney’s national security spokesman in the 2012 campaign.

Trump also said he will nominate a former top economics aide of his, Kenneth Juster, to serve as ambassador to India.