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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 BridenstineWhat should Biden do with NASA and the Artemis Program? The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden increases Electoral College win The Hill's Morning Report - Trump battles ballots; vaccine news boosts markets 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 NelsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Fearing defeat, Trump claims 'illegal' ballots The Hill's Morning Report - Biden inches closer to victory Senate Democrats want to avoid Kavanaugh 2.0 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 CruzO'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol 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 McConnellAs Biden administration ramps up, Trump legal effort drags on Harris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year MORE (R-Ky.) schedules it.