Florida Senator Marco Rubio had voiced his disagreement with Jim Bridenstine heading NASA because he said Bridenstine was not “professional.” Senator Bill Nelson had also made his opposition clear.
Senator Nelson largely opposed Bridenstine because of his views on climate change. He explained that “The NASA administrator should be a consummate space professional, that’s what this senator wants. That space professional ought to be technically and scientifically competent, and a skilled executive … What’s not right for NASA is an administrator who is politically divisive and who is not prepared to be the last in line to make that fateful decision on ‘Go’ or ‘No-Go’ for launch.”
In a statement, Rubio detailed his change of heart by stating that “While I wish the President would have nominated a space professional to run NASA, the unexpected April 30 retirement of the Acting Administrator would leave NASA, an agency whose mission is vital to Florida, with a gaping leadership void unless we confirm a new Administrator. Because of this, I decided to support the nomination of Rep. Bridenstine. I expect him to lead NASA in a non-political way and to treat Florida fairly.”
Ultimately, Bridenstine was voted in favor of with a final senate count of 50-48 after Arizona Senator Jeff Flake dropped his opposition as well and instead voted yes.