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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 BridenstineBill Nelson's nomination as NASA administrator is replete with irony Biden to nominate Bill Nelson to head NASA: reports The Biden administration endorses NASA's Artemis, the Space Force 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 NelsonWhy does Rep. Johnson oppose NASA's commercial human landing system? Trump hands Rubio coveted reelection endorsement in Florida Overnight Defense: Top House Armed Services Republican talks National Guard at Capitol, Afghanistan, more | Pentagon chief visits Afghanistan amid administration's review | Saudis propose Yemen ceasefire 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 CruzCruz no longer wearing mask in Capitol The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Democrats brace for new 'defund the police' attacks 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 McConnellMcCarthy and Biden haven't spoken since election Democrats roll out legislation to expand Supreme Court Wall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study MORE (R-Ky.) schedules it.