Tags: Trump Administration | florida | rubio | nelson | nasa | bridenstine

Florida Sens. Rubio, Nelson Skeptical of Trump's Pick for NASA

Florida Sens. Rubio, Nelson Skeptical of Trump's Pick for NASA
(AP)

By    |   Saturday, 02 September 2017 01:06 PM

Both of Florida's senators say they oppose Oklahoma GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine's nomination as NASA administrator, saying a space professional, not a politician, should head the nation's space program.

"I just think it could be devastating for the space program, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told Politico.  "Obviously, being from Florida, I’m very sensitive to anything that slows up NASA and its mission. It's the one federal mission which has largely been free of politics and it’s at a critical juncture in its history."

Rubio continued that he would have to see the nomination held up over "partisanship, political arguments, past votes, or statements made in the past -- because the agency can’t afford it and it can’t afford the controversy."

The Oklahoma Republican criticized Rubio during the 2016 GOP presidential primary, including in advertising for one of Rubio's rivals, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Rubio, though, said he does not hold the comments against Bridenstine a former Navy pilot who has served as director of Tulsa’s Air and Space Museum.

"There’s a couple people in the executive branch who didn’t always say nice things about me in a political campaign," said Rubio. "This is largely a secondary issue. I don’t think it speaks to a person’s ability to work at NASA."

Florida's Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who has a home on the state's Space Coast and in 1986 flew on a Space Shuttle Columbia mission as a member of Congress, said in a brief statement to Politico that the "head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician."

Nelson is the ranking member on the Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will hear Bridenstine's nomination, as it oversees NASA.

Rubio and Nelson did not say definitively whether they'd vote against Bridenstine, whose nomination was announced Friday night, but that they did have concerns that his political background could delay his nomination.

Rubio said he would prefer instead an administrator who has the "respect of the people who work there from a leadership and even a scientific perspective," and that he's shared his thoughts on the matter with the White House.

He said he'll wait until he meets with Bridenstine before deciding how to vote.

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Both of Florida's senators say they oppose Oklahoma GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine's nomination as NASA administrator, saying a space professional, not a politician, should head the nation's space program.
florida, rubio, nelson, nasa, bridenstine
369
2017-06-02
Saturday, 02 September 2017 01:06 PM
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