Florida senators bash Trump's pick for NASA administrator

President Trump plans to nominate Rep. James Bridenstine (R-Okla.) to be the next administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the White House announced Friday. "Our history is awesome, and our future is even brighter, as we continue to build on this nation's incredible global leadership in human exploration, science, aeronautics and technology". He's got no science background but has worked in the private sector in defense contracting and aerospace, and he also spent nine years in the Navy prior to his stint in Congress.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the state's senior senator and ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which will hold confirmation hearings on the nomination, also raised questions about Bridenstine. His predecessor, Michael Griffin, was an engineer and manager with extensive experience in civil, commercial and national security space. "The United States commercial space industry must be provided maximum regulatory certainty with minimal regulatory burden", the bill's site proposed.

"From the discovery of water ice on the moon until this day, the American objective should have been a permanent outpost of rovers and machines at the poles with occasional manned missions for science and maintenance", Bridenstine wrote.

An early Trump supporter, Bridenstine had reportedly lobbied Trump for the job for some time. "Obviously, being from Florida, I'm very sensitive to anything that slows up NASA and its mission". He has also pushed for more coordination between military and civilian space programs, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Mr Bridenstine's backers say having someone with political skills who's close to the President could help NASA, which is facing budget cuts under the Trump administration.

Rubio continued that he would have to see the nomination held up over "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".

  • Eleanor Harrison