President Trump has finally named his pick for NASA administrator—and lawmakers from both parties are not happy with the choice. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, an Oklahoma lawmaker first elected to the House in 2013, is being criticized as overly political and as lacking aerospace experience, Newsweek reports. The 42-year-old Republican, who was an early Trump supporter, served as a pilot in the US Navy Reserve and was executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium for around 18 months, but he has no formal science or engineering qualifications. He has been active on space issues in Congress, however, and is strongly supported by private space companies.
To become NASA's 13th administrator, Bridenstine has to be approved by the Senate, and both senators from Florida have expressed concerns. "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," Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told Politico after the White House named Bridenstine on Friday night. "It’s the one federal mission which has largely been free of politics and it’s at a critical juncture in its history." Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson echoed Rubio's concerns about Bridenstine having too much "political baggage," saying: "The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician."