President Donald Trump nominated GOP Rep. James Bridenstine of Oklahoma to lead NASA Friday, a move that has some Republicans riled.
If confirmed, Bridenstine will be one of the few NASA administrators without a space or science background. The congressman is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and a former head of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, Oklahoma’s Tulsa World reports.
Bridenstine has a history of championing private space initiatives, such as mining for minerals on the moon. He has also pushed for more coordination between military and civilian space programs, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Those tendencies could lead to political friction throughout the nomination process, according to WSJ.
Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio criticized Bridenstine’s “political baggage,” saying it could be “devastating” to have a politician lead the U.S. Space Agency, Politico reports.
“It’s the one federal mission which has largely been free of politics and it’s at a critical juncture in its history,” Rubio told Politico. “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.”
Bridenstine has gotten support as well from some in the GOP. Fellow Oklahoma lawmaker, Sen. Jim Inhofe, supported Trump’s pick.
“I am pleased President Trump has announced his intent to name Jim Bridenstine as NASA Administrator today,” Inhofe said in a statement. “Bridenstine’s lifelong passion for space, combined with his work in Congress on modernizing our nation’s space program, will serve him well at NASA. I look forward to working with my fellow Oklahoman in this new capacity.”
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