The Atlantic

NASA Finally Gets a New Leader

Nearly 15 months after President Trump was sworn in, the space agency has a permanent administrator.
Source: Sue Ogrocki / AP

After an unprecedented wait, the nation’s space agency has a Trump-picked, Senate-approved, permanent leader at last.

Lawmakers voted 50–49 on Thursday to approve the nomination of Jim Bridenstine, a Republican congressman from Oklahoma, for NASA administrator, following months of debate over his qualifications and growing uncertainty over leadership at the agency.

The vote was split along party lines, and for a few tense moments it seemed like maybe one Republican senator, Jeff Flake of Arizona, would join Democrats in their opposition. Tammy Duckworth, the Democrat from Illinois, who has been away from the Hill after having a baby earlier this month, came to the Senate floor to cast her vote in case Flake didn’t flip, with her daughter in tow.

The confirmation comes 15 months after Charles Bolden, the administrator under former President Barack Obama, stepped—who is nominated by the president and must be approved by Congress—in the transition between two administrations. Previously, the largest gap was six months, between the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.

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