Thursday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Congressman Jim Bridenstine as administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on a party line vote of 50-49.
“My long-time friend and ally, Jim Bridenstine, has the ability to make an exceptional NASA administrator,” U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, said. “Jim not only has a keen interest in aeronautics and space, he also understands the Washington political atmosphere and, as such, has political insight that NASA needs to help overcome the political hurdles that have all too often hampered NASA in the past.”
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, voted to confirm Bridenstine.
“Congratulations to Congressman Jim Bridenstine on being confirmed as the NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration Administrator today,” Shelby said. “I look forward to working with him as he leads the agency – continuing NASA’s mission of space exploration.”
“Jim Bridenstine and I have had a strong working relationship for years in the House on the House Armed Services Committee and House Science & Technology Committee,” Brooks said. “As Vice-Chair of the Space Subcommittee, I look forward to continuing to work together with Jim Bridenstine as he takes the helm at NASA.”
U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, voted against Bridenstine’s confirmation.
“Unfortunately, NASA has been without an administrator for the longest period in its history,” Brooks said. “Senate Democrats delayed Jim’s confirmation —as they have with numerous appointees of President Trump’s— for partisan, political reasons. Even today, every Senate Democrat voted ‘No’ on Jim’s nomination— not for NASA or America’s sake, but to obstruct President Trump and obstruct conservative principles that helped elect so many Congressmen and Senators. Prior to this Administration, the longest NASA had endured without a Senate confirmed administrator was 80 days. It took the Senate 230 days to confirm Jim Bridenstine—far longer than the 45 days it typically takes to confirm a NASA administrator. Senate Democrats’ obstruction of President Trump’s nominees is unacceptable and continues to do great damage to America.”
IIt is an honor to be confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as NASA Administrator,” said Bridenstine. “I am humbled by this opportunity, and I once again thank President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for their confidence. I look forward to working with the outstanding team at NASA to achieve the President’s vision for American leadership in space.”
“I’m very pleased to welcome Jim Bridenstine to NASA,” said acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot. “He joins our great agency at a time when we are poised to accomplish historic milestones across the full spectrum of our work. Jim now takes the reins of this agency and its talented and dedicated workforce. I’m looking forward to him building on our great momentum and sharing our many strengths to help us make the next giants leaps on behalf of humanity. I also want to express my heartfelt appreciation to the NASA team for all they accomplished during my time leading the agency.”
Bridenstine, until his confirmation on Thursday, represented Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District.
Bridenstine is a U.S. Navy veteran who flew E-2C Hawkeye aircraft off of the carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. He flew combat missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He later transitioned to flying the F-18 Hornet. He spent years in the Navy where he made 333 carrier landings. After leaving the Navy, Bridenstine served as the executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium.
He has experience in real estate and ranching as well as a degree from Rice and a Masters in Business Administration from Cornell. In 2012 he was promoted to Lt Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve while flying missions in Central and South America in the war on drugs. Bridenstine recently transitioned to the 137th Air Refueling Wing of the Oklahoma Air National Guard, flying with an MC-12 squadron stationed in Oklahoma City. He was elected to Congress in 2012.
There were concerns that appointing a Congressman as NASA Administrator would politicize NASA. U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, almost killed the nomination; but reversed his vote to in favor of Bridenstine.
It has taken over a year for the Senate to confirm President Donald Trump’s pick to lead NASA.
“Democrats are obstructing good (hopefully great) people wanting to give up a big portion of their life to work for our Government, hence, the American People,” Trump tweeted. “They are “slow walking” all of my nominations – hundreds of people. At this rate it would take 9 years for all approvals!”
(Original reporting by the Washington Examiner contributed to this article.)