President Donald Trump’s pick to lead NASA, Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), strongly defended his record in Congress on Wednesday,
as he faced sharp attacks from Democrats on a Senate panel, who sharply criticized some of his past political stances, arguing
that the Oklahoma Republican might not be the right person to lead NASA.
“Does NASA need someone who has been so involved in politics?” Sen. Bill Nelson (R-FL) asked at a Senate hearing.
“A NASA Administrator has to be responsible for the comments that they make,” Nelson added, as he rebuked Bridenstine for
supporting GOP candidates who had expressed strong opposition to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
Bridenstine fully acknowledged that he has taken political stances since being elected to Congress, but said that shouldn’t
matter in this confirmation debate.
Sen. Nelson on NASA nominee Rep. Bridenstine record: “You can say politics is politics, but these are some of the most divisive
— Tom Risen (@TomRisen)
November 1, 2017
“It’s also true that as a member of the House of Representatives, representing Oklahoma, I have advocated for issues that
are not relevant to NASA,” Bridenstine said.
During the hearing, other GOP Senators rushed to Bridenstine’s support, with one labeling Nelson’s comments, “wildly inappropriate.”
“I cannot imagine a better person to head this, or any other agency,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said of Bridenstine, in an impbadioned
defense of the Republican Congressman.
“While NASA should not be driven by politics, we have seen people from the political arena do very well at NASA,” Bridenstine
“I don’t think that service in Congress is disqualifying,” Bridenstine said, as he was challenged by Democrats on past political
remarks, his stance on climate change, and whether he has enough science experience to lead the space agency.
Democrats also brought up Bridenstine’s work as head of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, arguing that his stewardship encountered
Peters brings up Bridenstine’s time as exec director of Tulsa Air and Space Museum, says turned annual surplus into deficit.
— Jeff Foust (@jeff_foust)
November 1, 2017
Bridenstine disputed that, saying the charge was all about politics.
“Those accusations are not accurate,” Bridenstine added.