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 BridenstineCongress greenlights NASA's crewed moon lander — sort of Boeing launches first Starliner test flight Doug Loverro's job is to restore American spaceflight to the ISS and the moon 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 most expensive congressional races of the last decade Lobbying world Bottom Line 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 CruzSeven things to know about the Trump trial All the frontrunners could survive initial Iowa test Republicans face internal brawl over impeachment witnesses 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 McConnellPoll shows Collins displaces McConnell as most unpopular senator Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti on impeachment: 'CNN can see through this nonsense' Trump says impeachment trial should move 'very quickly' MORE (R-Ky.) schedules it.