NASA May Get New Deputy Administrator Next Week

NASA May Get New Deputy Administrator Next Week

Senate Democrats announced today that agreement has been reached for the Senate to consider Dava Newman’s nomination to be NASA Deputy Administrator on Monday, April 27.   Newman would replace Lori Garver, who left the agency in September 2013.

The Senate Democrats’ website says that 30 minutes of debate on the nomination will begin at 5:00 pm ET divided equally between the parties.  If all that time is used, the vote would occur at 5:30 pm ET.

The Senate has been gridlocked on approving nominations for weeks because of a dispute between Republicans and Democrats over abortion language in a bill on human trafficking that held up a vote on the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be Attorney General.  Republicans refused to bring Lynch’s nomination to the floor until Democrats agreed to the trafficking bill.  A solution was found to that problem and the bill passed today, opening the door to a vote on Lynch, who was approved with a vote of 56-43. 

With that nomination completed, others now can move forward.  Newman was nominated to be Deputy Administrator in October 2014 and renominated when the 114th Congress convened in January.   The nomination was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on March 31.  No hearing was held.  The approval was by voice vote and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who chairs the subcommittee that oversees NASA, was not present.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden told the Senate Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee last week that he has been “pleading” with the Senate to confirm Newman because “I need the help.”


Newman is an MIT professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems best known for her designs of spacesuits for use on Mars.  She also is director of MIT’s Technology and Policy Program, Director of the MIT Portugal Program, co-director of the Man-Vehicle Laboratory at MIT, and a Harvard-MIT Health, Sciences and Technology Faculty Member.   She has a B.S. from the University of Notre Dame and two S. M.’s (one in aeronautics and astronautics, the other in technology and policy) and a Ph.D. (in aerospace biomedical engineering) from MIT.

It will be interesting to see if Cruz is present for the floor vote on Newman’s nomination.  He was noticeably absent from today’s vote on Lynch — the only Senator who did not vote — although he did vote against a cloture resolution on that nomination earlier in the day.  As the chair of the Space, Science and Competitiveness subcommittee, he would typically be expected to be the primary proponent (or opponent ) of a nomination to a NASA position.   Three NASA jobs require Senate confirmation:  Administrator, Deputy Administrator, and Chief Financial Officer.

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