Senate Approves Newman As NASA Deputy Administrator, Cruz Misses Vote

Senate Approves Newman As NASA Deputy Administrator, Cruz Misses Vote

Today the Senate confirmed Dava Newman’s nomination to be the next Deputy Administrator of NASA.

The vote was 87-0.  Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who chairs the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness that oversees NASA, did not vote.   He also was absent from the committee vote that forwarded Newman’s nomination to the Senate in March. His absence from the votes is notable because of his leadership position on NASA issues as chairman of that subcommittee, although he is earning a reputation for missing important votes on unrelated topics as well.  His office often explains that scheduling conflicts are the problem.  Cruz is campaigning for the Republican Presidential nomination.

He was not the only Senator to miss the vote.  According to a list in The Hill newspaper, 12 other Senators who did not vote were Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), and David Vitter (R-Louisiana). 

Newman is from Montana and Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana) spoke in favor of her nomination on behalf of Republicans.  Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) spoke on behalf of Democrats.  Both briefly summarized her career achievements.  Daines particularly praised her career as an inspiration to young Montanans to pursue careers in space and engineering.  Nelson spoke mostly of his participation in a space shuttle mission piloted by current NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and said that Bolden needed help to run the agency and Newman is “just the right person.”

In statements after the vote, Bolden said he was “personally ecstatic to welcome her aboard,” noting that he has “known and admired Dava for several decades,” while Newman said it is an “enormous honor” to serve at NASA and thanked the President, the Senate, Bolden and “everyone at MIT — I can’t wait to come aboard.”

Newman is an MIT professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems and director of MIT’s technology and policy program. She was originally nominated by President Obama in October 2014 and renominated when the 114th Congress convened in January 2015.   Her nomination was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee on March 25, 2015 and today’s vote by the full Senate was scheduled last week.  She will succeed Lori Garver, who left the agency in September 2013.


MIT Professor Dava Newman. Photo Credit:  MIT

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