Rubio Still Concerned Over Bridenstine’s Nomination to Run NASA

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

Rep. Jim Bridenstine’s (R-OK) confirmation hearing apparently did nothing to assuage the doubts of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) over his suitability to serve as NASA’s next administrator.

“I remain very concerned about the politicization of NASA, not even because he would do it on purpose but just given some of the resistance he’s already engendered,” Rubio said in an interview Friday. “I don’t think NASA at this critical stage of its history can afford that … As of this moment, I can’t assure anyone that I would support his nomination if it came to a vote.”

Rubio’s comments are his strongest yet and suggest that his initial misgivings when President Donald Trump announced Bridenstine’s nomination in early September have only grown.

A broad swath of Democrats from Washington Sen. Patty Murray to Florida Sen. Bill Nelson have already announced their opposition to Bridenstine over a range of his past statements, including ones skeptical of climate science and opposing same-sex marriage.

Bridenstine’s nomination requires approval of the full Senate. Republicans hold a 52-48 advantage in the upper chamber, which means the Congressman cannot afford to lose many GOP votes.

Sen. Patty Murray Opposes Bridenstine Nomination to Run NASA

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

With his confirmation hearing for the post of NASA administrator scheduled for Nov. 1, Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) is facing opposition from Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) over his opposition to climate change research and “bigoted and hateful statements” he has made about gays, Muslims and women.

“Rep. Bridenstine’s background makes him an extremely concerning choice to lead this critical agency and its 19,000 diverse employees,” Murray wrote in a three-page letter released today.

“Rep. Bridenstine’s denial of climate change and consistent opposition to equal rights for women, immigrants, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals should disqualify him from consideration,” Given his very public statements and positions, its clear Rep. Bridenstine would move us backwards not forwards, and I urge you to vote against his nomination.”

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Florida Scientists Urge Nelson, Rubio to Oppose Bridenstine Nomination

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

A group of more than 40 Florida scientists have signed an open letter to Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) to oppose the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to become NASA administrator.

“The vital work of NASA’s Earth observation systems must continue without political interference,” the letter states. “We find it troubling that Congressman Bridenstine has repeated misinformation in his quest to deny climate change, notably in 2013 when he suggested that global temperatures were not rising….

“We urge you to oppose Jim Bridenstine’s nomination,” the letter adds. “He has no scientific training and little administrative experience and he is not qualified to lead this prestigious agency.”

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What Might Happen to NASA’s Earth Science Programs Under Bridenstine?

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Imagine the following scenario: NASA’s Earth Science division gets its budget cut with key missions focused on climate change canceled.

The new NASA administrator then announces the division will be dismantled, with various programs divided among other federal departments, in order to better focus the space agency on exploration. The bulk of the programs end up at NOAA, which the NASA administrator says is a much more appropriate home for them.

NOAA, however, is already reeling from spending cuts. Struggling to perform its own forecasting duties on a reduced budget, the agency has little bandwidth to take on any additional responsibilities. And the funding allocated for the NASA programs that were just transferred over is woefully inadequate for the tasks at hand.

The result is a bureaucratic train wreck in which America’s Earth science and climate research programs gradually wither away due to mismanagement, neglect and lack of funding. The ability of the nation — and the world — to understand and address the changes the planet experiencing is greatly reduced. At some future date, another administration will have to rebuild a program in shambles that was once the envy of the world.

Sound far fetched? Think again. It could very well happen if the Trump Administration and the man it has nominated to lead NASA get what they want out of Congress.

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Bridenstine Social Media Posts, Interviews Go Missing

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

A CNN KFile review has found that various social media accounts, postings and radio interviews belonging to and featuring Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) have been deleted this year.

Bridenstine has been nominated to become NASA Administrator and faces confirmation in the Senate. He is facing some push back from Florida’s two senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, who have expressed concerns about putting a politician in charge of the nation’s civilian space agency.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts belonging to Bridenstine’s campaign have been deleted entirely. Several posts on the Facebook page of Bridenstine’s congressional office have also been deleted.

The congressman’s Soundcloud account now only hosts two radio interviews with the congressman, but a search of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and the Google Cache show there used to be several radio interviews available on the account. Some of the missing interviews appear to be with conservative talk radio hosts like Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham.

Matthew Rydin, a spokesperson for Bridenstine, said the campaign Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were deleted because his office was getting questions about whether Bridenstine was standing by his pledge to only serve three terms, which he is.

“He is not campaigning for any office, so no reason to maintain the campaign accounts,” Rydin said.

Bridenstine’s spokesperson also said that some of the congressman’s radio interviews on Soundcloud might have been dropped as a result of a downgrade in the amount of storage space available on the account. However, according to a Soundcloud FAQ, Soundcloud says it does not delete files if you downgrade to a free account but hides the oldest uploads that exceed the upload limit of three hours. The two tracks currently on Bridenstine’s account total 38 minutes.

Read the full story.

Bridenstine Nomination to Head NASA Faces Opposition From Nelson, Rubio

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

President Donald Trump’s long expected nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to become the next administrator of NASA ran into immediate trouble on Capitol Hill after it was announced on Friday.

Florida’s two Senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio, both expressed serious concerns about appointing the three-term Congressman and former U.S. Navy pilot to lead the nation’s space agency.

“The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician,” Nelson said in a brief written statement to POLITICO.
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Senate Passes Commercial Space Launch Act

Capitol Building
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Senate Commerce Committee PR) –
The U.S. Senate, today, unanimously approved S. 1297, the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, introduced by Commerce Committee Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee chairman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), full committee ranking member Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee ranking member Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and subcommittee members Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). The legislation, which the full Commerce Committee approved by voice vote with an amendment on May 20, 2015, extends the operational use of the International Space Station (ISS) until 2024, a regulatory moratorium on commercial space activity through FY 2020, and ensures stability for the continued development and growth of the U.S. commercial space sector and other space initiatives.
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Asteroid Property Rights Legislation Introduced in Congress

Welcome WRANGLER, a NIAC-funded idea to capture and de-spin asteroids and space debris. (Credit: Robert Hoyt/Tethers Unlimited)
Welcome WRANGLER, a NIAC-funded idea to capture and de-spin asteroids and space debris. (Credit: Robert Hoyt/Tethers Unlimited)

Legislation that would grant property rights to entities mining asteroids has been introduced in Congress.

“Any asteroid resources obtained in outer space are the property of the entity that obtained such resources, which shall be entitled to all property rights thereto, consistent with applicable provisions of Federal law,” the measure states.

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Rubio Proposes Change to FAA Commercial Space Permitting & Licensing

Sen. Marco Rubio
Sen. Marco Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has introduced legislation that would allow companies developing and operating commercial reusable launch vehicles to hold launch licenses and experimental permits simultaneously.

Under current law, a company must give up its FAA-issued experimental permit for a vehicle once it obtains a launch license. Industry officials say this provision prevents them from testing improvements and repairs to existing vehicles as well conducting flight tests on new spacecraft that come off the assembly line.

“The Secretary may issue a permit under this section notwithstanding any license issued under this chapter,” the legislation states. “The issuance of a license under this chapter may not invalidate a permit under this section.”

Rubio introduced Senate Bill 592 in late February. The measure has been read twice and referred to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Senate Committee Passes Spaceflight Licensing & Permitting Measure

Capitol Building
The Senate Commerce Committee approved a measure on Wednesday that would allow space companies to fly their reusable launch vehicles under experimental permits even after the Federal Aviation Administration issues launch license.

Currently, the experimental permit is superseded by launch license, making it more difficult to use the vehicle to test modifications later on.

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Rubio: NASA Should Dispose of Underutilized Facilities

Marco_Rubio
Marco Rubio

In an effort apparently aimed at supporting the development of a commercial space facility in Florida, the Senate has approved a budget amendment introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) that urges NASA to dispose of underutilized property and facilities in order to save money and promote commercial space activities.

“NASA currently has underused facilities and property which are beyond their design life or outdated and costing billions of dollars to keep and maintain,” Rubio said in a press release.

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Nelson, Rubio Introduce Legislation to Help Brevard County

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio have introduced legislation to designate all of Brevard County as a HUBZone, making small businesses eligible for economic assistance in an area hard hit by the end of the space shuttle program.

The Shuttle Workforce Revitalization Act of 2102 aims to help the area around the Kennedy Space Center to help retain its skilled workforce by encouraging the development of small businesses. Approximately 9,000 people were laid off when the shuttle program ended last year. The designation would remain in place until not earlier than Jan. 1, 2020.

According to the HUBZone website:

Small businesses in high-unemployment, low-income areas can receive an economic boost from the HUBZone contracting program. The HUBZone program provides contracting assistance to small businesses located in economically distressed communities, referred to as Historically Underutilized Business Zones, or HUBZones, to promote job growth, capital investment and economic development in these areas, including Indian reservations.

The program’s benefits for HUBZone-certified companies include competitive and sole source contracting, a 10 percent price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions, as well as subcontracting opportunities. The Federal government has a goal of awarding 3 percent of all dollars for Federal prime contracts to HUBZone-certified concerns.