Senate panel advances Trump’s controversial NASA nominee

Senate panel advances Trump’s controversial NASA nominee

A Senate committee voted Wednesday to approve President Trump’s highly contentious nominee to lead NASA.

The decision to advance Rep. Jim BridenstineJames (Jim) Frederick BridenstineNASA looking into selling naming rights for rockets to corporate brands: report NASA administrator says he always thought humans caused climate change We really are going back to the moon and then on to Mars MORE's (R-Okla.) nomination came down to a party-line 14-13 vote in the Senate Commerce Committee.

Democrats strongly objected to Bridenstine, labeling him a politically polarizing figure with little scientific or technical expertise. They also objected to his skepticism of climate change science and his past statements on homosexuality and LGBT rights.

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“The NASA administrator, in my judgment, ought to be a skilled executive capable of managing a portfolio of many of the most challenging technical projects undertaken by humankind, especially at this point, as we are venturing out into the cosmos,” Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonPoll: Nelson running even against Scott in Florida senate race Poll: Nelson leads Scott by 7 points in Florida Midterm polling data favors Democrats — in moderation MORE (Fla.), the top Democrat on the committee, said before senators voted on Bridenstine.

“The NASA administrator must have a strong scientific and a technical background, and the NASA administrator must not be political,” he continued. “I believe, Mr. Chairman, that the nominee falls short.”

No Republicans spoke in favor of Bridenstine at the short Wednesday committee meeting.

But at a raucous hearing on Bridenstine last week, many in the GOP came to his defense.

“I am proud and deeply gratified that President Trump has nominated Rep. Bridenstine to lead NASA,” Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBredesen says he won't back Schumer for Senate Dem leader Webb: The new mob: Anti-American Dems Ignored Latino vote will be key in future elections MORE (R-Texas) said at the time.

“And I will say, this committee’s sorry performance during the confirmation hearing may not be surprising in the current environment, but is disappointing nonetheless," he continued.

Bridenstine will now be up for a vote by the whole Senate when Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell GOP leaning toward Arizona sex crimes prosecutor to question Kavanaugh accuser: report GOP confidence grows on Kavanaugh Senate panel schedules Friday morning vote for Kavanaugh MORE (R-Ky.) schedules it.