Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) is one of the most conservative members of the House, serving in the chamber’s controversial Freedom Caucus that has stopped many profligate bills and made many waves in Washington D.C. Bridenstine may get the opportunity to take his talents to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), as he was named by President Trump to serve as the new head of the organization.
Bridenstine was formerly the executive director of the Tulsa Air & Space Museum & Planetarium, and has been a long-time advocate of privatizing space. He is a strong supporter of mining for minerals on the moon, and he has called for the monitoring of orbital debris as the result of low-earth orbit satellites. This has been a topic of interest of Bridenstine’s for many years, and his post at the head of NASA will give him the great opportunity to tackle these issues and many others.
Because of his history as a critic of the global warming hypothesis and an advocate of privatizing space in many ways, serious resistance is expected from the Democrats; but, in surprising turn of events, early murmurs against Bridenstine are coming from his Republican colleagues in the Senate. Moderate, wishy-washy Republican senators are crying foul over Bridenstine’s nomination, fearing that as a fiscal conservative, he may choke off their state’s access to federal largess.
“I just think it could be devastating for the space program. Obviously, being from Florida, I’m very sensitive to anything that slows up NASA and its mission,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said.
“The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician,” Sen. Bill Nelson (R-FL) said, in a remark that could be interpreted as a direct insult to the legislator from Oklahoma.
If the swamp’s angry reactions are any indicator, President Trump has hit this nomination out of the park. If confirmed, Bridenstine will likely move NASA toward embracing market forces. Vice President Mike Pence’s space policy council was announced in June to set goals for Bridenstine’s agenda at the helm of NASA, and they are expected to realize a report in the months to come.