NASA gets a new administrator. One whose nomination to lead the agency was controversial, even among Republicans.
The Senate narrowly confirmed Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine on Thursday by a 50-49 vote. His confirmation after a vacancy of three months ends the longest period of time that NASA has operated without a permanent leader.
Bridenstine, a former Navy pilot who once ran the Air and Space Museum in Tulsa, was nominated by President Donald Trump last fall. But his confirmation stalled over objections from members in both parties about Bridenstine’s lack of experience and what it could mean for the agency to put a politician in charge for the first time.
Bridenstine has refused to acknowledge that human activity is the primary cause of climate change, a particularly concerning issue for NASA because it provides some of the most comprehensive data on climate change in the world.
Democrats also criticized him for his past statements on LGBTQ rights. He once described legislation protecting the right of transgender people to use the bathroom matching their gender identity as “lawless federal bullying.”
The Senate vote faced unanimous opposition from Democrats, including Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who brought her newborn daughter with her to cast her opposing vote, becoming the first senator to bring a child onto the chamber’s floor while the Senate was in session.
On Wednesday, the Senate had voted to allow the babies of its members into the chamber. The vote came at Duckworth’s urging after she became the first sitting senator to give birth. (Senate rules stipulate that members must be present in order to vote.)
What do you think about this new figure at the head of NASA?