For about an hour, no one was sure what was going to happen to break a tie vote to end debate on the next NASA administrator.
GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona returned to the floor and changed his “no” vote to “yes” for GOP Rep. James Bridenstine to be the next NASA administrator.
The motion then passed on a partisan 50-48 vote. Flake, a vocal critic of the President’s, had been the only Republican to vote against Bridenstine.
Flake said he has problems with Bridenstine and at one point had a “hold” on his nomination.
“I wasn’t enthusiastic about him but that wasn’t the point,” Flake explained. Critics have said that Bridenstine is not a “space professional” and others expressed concern about his views on climate change.
Ultimately, he was confirmed as the new NASA Administrator.
“It is an honor to be confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as NASA Administrator. I am humbled by this opportunity, and I once again thank President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for their confidence. I look forward to working with the outstanding team at NASA to achieve the President’s vision for American leadership in space,” Bridenstine said.
Bridenstine served as a U.S. Navy pilot for nine years, followed by four years in the Navy Reserve where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He was elected to Congress in 2012 and serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.