The Senate may force President Donald Trump to look elsewhere for a NASA administrator if the White House cannot rally more votes to confirm his pick, Politico reports.
Trump tapped Oklahoma GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine to lead the federal space agency months ago, but many senators still do not support the congressman. Bridenstine serves on the House Science, Space and Technology and the Armed Services committees.
Many senators oppose Bridenstine because his position and lack of a formal science background. Before being elected to office, he served as executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum.
“I know that at this point they do not have the votes,” Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson said, according to Politico. “This is the last thing in the world that NASA needs. NASA has never had a partisan politician. It needs a space professional as its leader.”
When Bridenstine’s nomination was announced in September, Nelson and fellow Florida Sen. Marco Rubio criticized the Trump pick. Rubio voiced concerns over Bridenstine’s “political baggage” holding up the nomination process.
“It’s the one federal mission which has largely been free of politics and it’s at a critical juncture in its history,” Rubio told Politico. “I would hate to see an administrator held up — on [grounds of] partisanship, political arguments, past votes, or statements made in the past — because the agency can’t afford it and it can’t afford the controversy.”
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