Trump's new NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, a Republican Congress member from Oklahoma. He has no background in space science. Photo: Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call

By Brian Resnick
19 April 2018

(Vox) – The US Senate on Thursday confirmed Jim Bridenstine, a Republican Congress member from Oklahoma, to be the next administrator of NASA. The post has remained vacant since January 2017, when Charles Bolden, the space agency’s leader under President Barack Obama, stepped down.

Bridenstine, 42, brings some odd qualifications to the job, and some controversy.

Typically, NASA administrators are chosen from within NASA’s ranks, come up through the military, or have a background in science. Bridenstine has none of that. His qualifications: He’s former Navy pilot who once ran the Air and Space Museum in Tulsa. He also sits on the House Committee that oversees NASA. The third-term representative is now the first member of Congress to hold the administrator job.

Even members of Bridenstine’s own party have voiced concerns over what putting a politician in charge could mean for the future of the agency.

As a politician, Bridenstine has hedged on climate change, an issue NASA scientists study and track in many different ways. During his confirmation hearing in November, Bridenstine agreed that humans are the driving force behind climate change, but he would not agree with the assertion that human activity is the primary cause of it. It’s an odd position to hold as the leader of an agency that provides some of the most comprehensive data on climate change in the world.

NASA has a staff of 17,000 and a budget of nearly $19 billion (not to mention the numerous contractors it works with). Bridenstine’s experience of managing a museum in Tulsa pales in comparison to the enormous complexity of NASA. Plus, there are new questions, raised by reporting from the Daily Beast, about whether Bridenstein used funds from the Tulsa Air and Space Museum to prop up a private venture. He reportedly ran the museum into a financial loss.

Bridenstine will also be controversial because he’s been outspoken against LGBTQ rights. In 2013, he called the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage a “disappointment.” He has also spoken out on the House floor criticizing the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to allowed LGBTQ members. In a speech, he charged that the left wing in the US wants to “reshape organizations like the Boy Scouts into instruments for social change.” […]

NASA is “the one federal mission which has largely been free of politics,” Rubio said in September, echoing the same concerns as his Florida colleague Sen. Bill Nelson, a former astronaut and the top Democrat on the Commerce Committee. “I just think it could be devastating for the space program,” Rubio said.

Rubio ultimately voted Thursday in favor of Bridenstine’s nomination. The day before, he citied concerns that NASA’s acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, is set to retire at the end of the month. “While I wish the president would have nominated a space professional to run NASA,” Rubio said in a statement, he wanted to avoid “a gaping leadership void.”  [more]

Trump’s next NASA administrator is a Republican congressman with no background in science


  1. Anonymous said...

    Trump is incapable of picking competent, informed, educated and intelligent people. All he cares about is who can prostitute themselves on his behalf. He calls this "loyalty".  

  2. Dennis Mitchell said...

    I heard about the Democrats suing the Republicans. The rules no longer apply. I fear this acceleration. Somebody is going to start shooting. I'm sitting here in Idaho watching dirty campaign advertising and that is Republican against Republican. We no longer live in a civil society. Our planet dies as these scum play their power games.  

  3. Anonymous said...

    Idaho has some very corrupt politicians. The two that I know of, Otter and Dan McDonald, are both Republicans. But they're in good company. I'm appalled at what ignorance and malfeasance I've seen with local issues by these two clowns. But this kind of corruption and ignorance isn't limited to any one state, it's everywhere now.  


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