Oklahoma U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine will likely learn Thursday if he will become the next Administrator of NASA.
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday, in a 50-48 party-line vote approved the start of 30 hours of debate to be followed by a vote on the nomination. The vote was on a cloture motion or procedural step which would allow the actual vote.
Rep. Bridenstine has spent the past seven months awaiting a vote on his nomination. His first nomination was in 2017 but the senate failed to take it up before the end of the congressional session. So President Trump nominated him again in January.
At one point in Wednesday’s Senate vote, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake came out against Bridenstine’s nomination. But Senate leadership kept the voting open for an hour and Flake, a Republican who has been at odds with President Trump eventually changed his vote.
Another dramatic aspect of the Wednesday vote came when Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio voted to allow Bridenstine’s nomination to move forward. He later issued a statement, explaining why he changed his opposition against Bridenstine.
“While I wish the president would have nominated a space professional to run NASA, the unexpected April 30 retirement of the acting administrator would leave NASA, an agency whose mission is vital to Florida, with a gaping leadership void unless we confirm a new administrator,” said the Senator.
“Because of this I decided to support the nomination of Rep. Bridenstine. I expect him to lead NASA in a non-political way and to treat Florida fairly.”