Bridenstine Confirmation Hearing Scheduled for November 1

Bridenstine Confirmation Hearing Scheduled for November 1

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on November 1, 2017 that includes the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to be Administrator of NASA.  President Trump announced his intention to nominate Bridenstine on September 2.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK)

Reaction to Bridenstine’s nomination has been mixed.  Critics including Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) argue that he is a politician and NASA should not be political.  They and others also point out that he is not a scientist or an engineer and has no experience leading a large government organization like NASA.  He also has expressed controversial views about climate change, although he has stated that he is not opposed to studying it.

Supporters counter that not all past NASA administrators have been scientists or engineers and Bridenstine’s strong interest in space during his tenure in Congress bodes well for the agency.  They add that he is not a career politician, but is only in his third term in the House representing the first district of Oklahoma.  For nine years he was a Navy pilot and continues to fly with the Oklahoma Air National Guard.  He also served as Executive Director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium.  He has a bachelor’s degree from Rice University and a master’s in business administration from Cornell.

Among his Senate supporters are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who chairs the Commerce subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA.  Several space groups, including the Space Foundation and the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, also support his nomination.

Bridenstine is one of four presidential nominees who will appear before the committee.  The other three are:

  • Ms. Dana Baiocco, of Ohio, to be a Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • Dr. Neil Jacobs, of North Carolina, to be an Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Environmental Observation and Prediction (a top level position at NOAA)
  • Ms. Nazakhtar Nikakhtar of Maryland to be an Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Industry and Analysis

The hearing is at 10:00 am ET and will be webcast.

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