Bridenstine faces flak in Senate confirmation hearing for NASA post

Bridenstine faces flak in Senate confirmation hearing for NASA post 

Posted: 11:35 am Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

By Jamie Dupree

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) strongly defended his record in Congress on Wednesday, as he faced sharp attacks from Democrats on a Senate panel, who sharply criticized some of his past political stances, arguing that the Oklahoma Republican might not be the right person to lead NASA.

“A NASA Administrator has to be responsible for the comments that they make,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who rebuked Bridenstine for supporting GOP candidates who had expressed strong opposition to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

“Does NASA need someone who has been so involved in politics?” Nelson asked at a Senate hearing.

Bridenstine fully acknowledged that he has taken political stances since being elected to Congress, but said that shouldn’t matter in this confirmation debate.

“It’s also true that as a member of the House of Representatives, representing Oklahoma, I have advocated for issues that are not relevant to NASA,” Bridenstine said.

During the hearing, other GOP Senators rushed to Bridenstine’s defense, labeling Nelson’s comments, “wildly inappropriate.”

“I cannot imagine a better person to head this, or any other agency,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said of Bridenstine.

“While NASA should not be driven by politics, we have seen people from the political arena do very well at NASA,” Bridenstine added.

“I don’t think that service in Congress is disqualifying,” Bridenstine said, as he was challenged by Democrats on past political remarks, his stance on climate change, and whether he has enough science experience to lead the space agency.

Democrats also brought up Bridenstine’s work as head of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, arguing that his stewardship encountered budgetary troubles.

Bridenstine disputed that, saying the charge was all about politics.

“Those accusations are not accurate,” Bridenstine added.

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