Another One of Trump's Nominees for Top Government Position Faces Heavy Criticism.
Democrats pummeled President Donald Trump’s pick to lead NASA at his confirmation hearing Wednesday, criticizing his past controversial statements on gay rights and climate change as well as poking holes in his professional qualifications.
Sen. Bill Nelson, (D-Fla.) the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, commended Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) for his military service, but said his experience as a pilot alone does not qualify him to lead NASA and make the budgetary and engineering decisions that come with the job.
The senator also slammed Bridenstine for numerous past controversial statements, including discriminatory remarks about the LGBT community and a denial that humans contribute to climate change.
“Your recent public service career does not instill great confidence about your leadership skills or ability to bring people together,” Nelson said. “In fact, your record and behavior in Congress is as divisive and extreme as any in Washington.”
In 2013, Bridenstine called the Supreme Court decision declaring same-sex marriage constitutional a “disappointment.” He also called former President Barack Obama’s executive order allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their identified gender as “lawless federal bullying.”
Remarks like these drew gay rights advocacy groups to try to derail his nomination. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) also urged Democrats in a letter earlier this month to oppose Bridenstine's nomination over these controversial remarks.
Asked directly how LGBT employees at NASA should feel if he is confirmed, Bridenstine said multiple times that he believes "from my heart that every human being has dignity and worth" and promised to treat all employees equally.