U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Space and Technology, questioned Jim Bridenstine during his nomination hearing today on the role of NASA. Bridenstine, of Oklahoma, has been nominated by President Trump to be Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Inhofe: “You have to keep in mind, NASA has to come to Congress to get their funding, to get their appropriation, to get their authorization and I would think that all of us here—one common thread is—we are all very excited about the future of NASA and what we can do. I’m concerned, I want to be ahead of some of these other countries that I believe have passed us up in many areas… I think it’s a positive, particularly when you are trying to get the attention of Congress to support NASA, to have been a member of Congress. What do you think?”
Bridenstine replied: “I think that’s accurate, sir. I think one of the benefits I could bring to this agency is the fact that I have worked in these halls with many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to accomplish very important strategic objectives for our country and when you think about what the Administrator of NASA’s role will be in the coming years, working with the National Space Council and working with the Office of Management and Budget and working with the White House and, of course, working to build a consensus agenda with members of Congress on both sides, the Senate and the House. I think that my experience has prepared me well to be able to accomplish those things and certainly it would be a high honor if I were to be confirmed to do that.”
Inhofe then asked: “…Looking at the threats we face today, we are in the most threatened position, I believe, in the history of our country… I look at one of the functions of NASA to be concerned with and be working on is the fact that we have a real threat out there. Do you have any ideas on what you as an administrator, should you be confirmed, could draw upon your experiences as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, that would be helpful in working on our national security?”
Bridenstine replied: “Yes, sir. Not just on my time on the Armed Services Committee, but also as a Navy pilot, I can tell you that one of the greatest risks we have in the world today—from an aircraft carrier perspective—is hypersonics… The research NASA has done can lead to our capabilities that can be used by the Department of Defense. Hypersonics, in my view sir, is the most important right now.”
Senator Inhofe concluded by stating: “…There has been a lot of talk about Jim Bridenstine from people who don’t know him very well. I have the distinction of knowing him better than anyone else at this table and let me just say to my friends on both sides of the aisle, I support him because I believe he is going to be the very best administrator that we will have. I think we will look back at this time someday and I would just say to you if you knew him as I know him, you would be very supportive. Thank you Mr. Chairman.”