Trump to name Rep. Bridenstine as NASA administrator

The White House on Friday said President Donald Trump intends to nominate Rep. James Bridenstine as administrator of NASA. File Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA

Sept. 1 (UPI) — President Donald Trump on Friday said he intends to nominate U.S. Rep. James Bridenstine, R-Okla., to be administrator of NASA.

NASA has been without someone in the post since Trump took office in January.

Bridenstine, elected in 2012, serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee, and is a former Navy pilot. After leaving active duty, Bridenstine served as executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium.

Florida Sens. Marco Rubio, a Republican, and Bill Nelson, a Democrat, both oppose the pick, saying a “politician” shouldn’t lead the agency.

“The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician,” Nelson said in a statement to Politico.

Rubio said that though Bridenstine spoke negatively about him during the presidential primary, that wasn’t the reason for his opposition. Rubio said he worries about Bridenstine’s “political baggage.”

“I just think it could be devastating for the space program. Obviously, being from Florida, I’m very sensitive to anything that slows up NASA and its mission,” Rubio said.

“It’s the one federal mission which has largely been free of politics and it’s at a critical juncture in its history,” Rubio added. “I would hate to see an administrator held up — on [grounds of] 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.”

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