On Thursday (19 April), the US Senate narrowly confirmed Jim Bridenstine as the new head of NASA. The vote was 50-49 along party lines.
Bridenstine is a Republican representative from Oklahoma and a former Navy pilot with no scientific background.
Many criticized him as unqualified for the position. However, once Repubicans Marco Rubio and Jeff Flake threw their votes Bridenstine’s way, he won his confirmation.
In September, Rubio told Politico he worried Bridenstine could be ‘devastating for the space program’.
Lack of experience
Like previous Trump nominees, Bridenstine does not come from a scientific background. In fact, he’s the first ever elected official to lead NASA.
Many Senators decried his views on climate change. Namely, that he believes human aren’t worsening the state of the planet.
He also said the people of Oklahoma were ‘ready to accept an apology’ from then-President Barack Obama. Why? In Bridenstine’s words, due to a ‘gross misallocation’ of funds for climate change research.
Democratic Senator Brian Schatz from Hawaii tweeted his disapproval of the confirmation. He wrote there is ‘no excuse for voting for someone so unqualified’ and that it reminds him ‘elections have consequences’.
There is simply no excuse for voting for someone so unqualified to run NASA. They aren’t even bothering to make the argument that he will be a good administrator. They are just voting yes and getting out of town. For me this is a good reminder that elections have consequences.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) April 19, 2018
A history of discrimination
Then there’s the fact that, once again, like many previous Trump nominees, Bridenstine has virulently anti-LGBTQ views.
Thanks to GLAAD’s Trump Accountability Project, all his harmful thoughts can be found in one place.
While a representative, he opposed marriage equality and lamented the Supreme Court’s repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). He said the repeal was ‘contrary to millennia of human experience’ and also ‘clearly contrary to the choice of the people as expressed in a constitutionally valid process’.
He also blamed ‘intolerant left bullies’ for the Boy Scouts of America becoming more inclusive.
Bridenstein replaces Robert Lightfoot Jr. Lightfoot was serving as acting director since January when NASA administrator Charles Bolden Jr. resigned.
On his new position, Bridenstein said: ‘I am humbled by this opportunity … I look forward to working with the outstanding team at NASA to achieve the President’s vision for American leadership in space.’