Jim Bridenstine

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Jim Bridenstine
Jim Bridenstine official portrait.jpg
13th Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Assumed office
April 23, 2018
President Donald Trump
Preceded by Charles Bolden
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oklahoma's 1st district
In office
January 3, 2013 – April 23, 2018
Preceded by John Sullivan
Succeeded by Vacant
Personal details
Born James Frederick Bridenstine
(1975-06-15) June 15, 1975 (age 43)
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Michelle Bridenstine
Children 3
Education Rice University (BA)
Cornell University (MBA)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Navy
 United States Air Force
Years of service 1998–2007 (Active)
2010–2015 (Reserve)
2015–present (Air National Guard)
Rank US-O4 insignia.svg Lieutenant Commander (Active)
US-O4 insignia.svg Lieutenant Commander (Reserve)
US-O4 insignia.svg Major (Air National Guard)
Unit Oklahoma Air National Guard
Battles/wars War in Afghanistan
Awards

James Frederick Bridenstine (born June 15, 1975) is an American politician and the administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Bridenstine served as the United States Representative for Oklahoma's 1st congressional district, based in Tulsa from January 3, 2013 to April 23, 2018. He is a member of the Republican Party.

On September 1, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Bridenstine to be the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 19, 2018. Bridenstine has served on the Committee on Science, Space and Technology during his time in Congress. He is the first elected official to serve as NASA Administrator.[1] His nomination drew controversy given his lack of formal qualifications in science or engineering, and his rejection of the scientific consensus on climate change.

Early life, education, and military service[edit]

Bridenstine was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and is a Jenks High School graduate,[2] a graduate of Rice University with majors in Economics, Psychology, and Business, and has an MBA from Cornell University.[3] He is a former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium and was a Naval Aviator in both the active duty United States Navy and the United States Naval Reserve where he flew the E-2C Hawkeye aircraft as part of a carrier air wing with the former and in Central and South America in support of the War on Drugs with the latter. In 2015, he transferred his Reserve commission and joined the Oklahoma Air National Guard.[4][non-primary source needed] Bridenstine is an Eagle Scout. As of 2016, Bridenstine is a State of Oklahoma record holder in the 200M long course freestyle relay.[5]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Bridenstine's official congressional portrait, 2013

Elections[edit]

2012[edit]

In the Republican primary election on June 26, 2012, Bridenstine defeated five-term incumbent U.S. Congressman John Sullivan 54% to 46%. Although he identified with the tea party and was perceived as running to Sullivan's right, Bridenstine's actual policy statements differed little from those of Sullivan.[6][7][8] [9][needs update] In the November 2012 general election, he defeated Democratic nominee John Olson 63%–32%, and won all five counties in the district.[10] Bridenstine had effectively clinched a seat in Congress by ousting Sullivan in the Republican primary. The 1st is a heavily Republican district with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+16, and has been in Republican hands since 1987. While in Congress Bridenstine joined the House Freedom Caucus with other conservatives.[11]

2014[edit]

Bridenstine ran unopposed in the 2014 election.

2016[edit]

Bridenstine retained his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2016 election.[12] Following the 2016 presidential election, Bridenstine was viewed as a possible candidate for either NASA administrator or Secretary of the Air Force under the Donald Trump administration.[13] Bridenstine had already declared that he would not run for re-election in 2018 after making a three-term pledge.[14]

Committee assignments[edit]

Bridenstine sat on the Committee on Armed Services and Committee on Science, Space and Technology during the 113th,[15] 114th,[16] and 115th Congresses.[17]

Within the Armed Services Committee, Bridenstine has sat on the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces[18] and Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.[19] Within the Science Committee, Bridenstine has sat on the Subcommittee on Environment (Chairman)[20] and Subcommittee on Space.[21] He is a member of the Freedom Caucus[11] and the House Baltic Caucus.[22]

Campaign financing[edit]

In the 2014 election cycle, Bridenstine's top campaign contributors were Northrop Grumman, Latshaw Drilling, American Optometric Association, Citizens United and the Every Republican is Crucial Political Action Committee.[23] He received $29,000 from donors associated with the Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians and the Assembly of the Friends of Azerbaijan (AFAZ), per an analysis of the Center for Responsive Politics.[24]

Ethics investigation[edit]

Bridenstine's amendment to the defense appropriations bill came following a visit to Baku upon invitation of the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic for 10 members of Congress and 32 Staff members that became the subject of an ethics investigation.[25] The members received numerous gifts during the trip totaling thousands of dollars in value. In 2013, Bridenstine returned two of the gifts (a pair of rugs worth several thousand dollars) back to the donor. He turned over remaining gifts received during the trip to the House Clerk in 2015, following a watchdog report that indicated that the source of the funding for the trip had not been properly declared. The OCE and House Ethics committee found that lawmakers and aides had no way of knowing that the trip was funded improperly.[26]

Ted Cruz campaign[edit]

Bridenstine was one of three co-chairs of the Veterans Coalition supporting Ted Cruz for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential campaign. He was joined in "Vets for Ted" by former U.S. Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire and Texas State Senator Brian Birdwell. Bill Connor was national director of the coalition.[27]

NASA administrator[edit]

Bridenstine is sworn in as NASA's thirteenth administrator by Vice President Mike Pence.

Nomination[edit]

On September 1, 2017, the White House announced that Bridenstine was President Donald Trump's preferred pick to head NASA. The choice was quickly criticized by both Republican and Democratic politicians, saying that NASA should be headed by a "space professional", not a politician or a Trump ally.[28] Critics drew attention to Bridenstine's lack of formal qualifications in science or engineering (unlike previous appointees to that post).[29][30] Florida Republican senator Marco Rubio said that Bridenstine's political history could prove controversial and delay the confirmation process, saying "I just think it could be devastating for the space program", while Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, also of Florida and a former Payload Specialist for NASA who flew on STS-61-C, said "The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician."[31][30] CNN found that Bridenstine's Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts were entirely deleted, while most of the interviews on his Soundcloud were deleted, at a time when Congress would be examining his record for his confirmation hearing.[32]

The New York Times also noted that Bridenstine rejects the scientific consensus on climate change, has criticized NASA spending on climate science and has supported increased privatization of U.S. civil and military space activities.[29] According to NPR, Bridenstine's climate change denial views "are sure to alarm scientists, because NASA conducts a huge amount of the global research on climate change."[33] NASA finds that climate-warming trends are "extremely likely due to human activities" and has written on its website that "the small amount of dissent tends to come from a few vocal scientists who are not experts in the climate field or do not understand the scientific basis of long-term climate processes".[34]

Eric Stallmer, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, said he was "very impressed with [Bridenstine's] deep knowledge of space technology issues and his record of strong leadership in promoting positive change."[35] The decision to pick Bridenstine was also praised by Senator Ted Cruz.[36]

According to Science Magazine, "many expect that Bridenstine, who has written about the commercial potential of exploiting lunar resources, could shift the agency's emphasis [from its long-term mission of sending humans to Mars] toward the moon."[28] ABC News wrote that Bridenstine is in favor of both human missions to the Moon and Mars.[34][37]

The U.S. Senate narrowly confirmed Bridenstine on April 19, 2018, by a party-line vote of 50–49.[38][39][40] He became the first member of Congress to lead NASA.[34]

Tenure[edit]

Bridenstine was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence at the NASA Headquarters building in Washington, D.C. on April 23, 2018.[41][42][43]

Political positions[edit]

Space[edit]

Bridenstine has focused heavily on space policy during his tenure in Congress, stating "[o]ur very way of life depends on space, the way we communicate, the way we navigate, the way we produce food and energy, the way we conduct banking."[44] In April 2016 at the 32nd Annual Space Symposium, Bridenstine introduced H.R. 4945, the American Space Renaissance Act, comprehensive reform legislation with provisions affecting national security, civil, and commercial space policy.[45]

In addition, Bridenstine has proposed legislation related to the regulatory process overseeing certain non-traditional space activities,[46] and helped secure funding for the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation.[46][47] Recognizing his efforts, in 2015 SpaceNews named Bridenstine as one of five game changers in the world in space.[47]

Environment and climate[edit]

Before becoming the chief administrator of NASA, Bridenstine rejected the scientific consensus behind global climate change[31][33][36] and in a 2013 speech on the House floor stated that global temperatures stopped rising ten years earlier.[36] Bridenstine criticized the Obama administration for spending "30 times as much money" on climate science as on weather forecasting; PolitiFact said that assertion was "mostly false".[48]

By May 2018, Bridenstine had reversed his position on climate change. At a town hall meeting in Washington D.C., Bridenstine stated that "I fully believe and know that the climate is changing. I also know that we humans beings are contributing to it in a major way. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. We’re putting it into the atmosphere in volumes that we haven’t seen, and that greenhouse gas is warming the planet. That is absolutely happening, and we are responsible for it."[49]

In 2017, Bridenstine supported James Langevin's legislation requiring the Defense Department to report on the effects of climate change on military installations and strategic battle plans.[50] According to journalist Keith Cowing, Bridenstine's support for the Langevin amendment "was widely seen as being instrumental in its passage."[51]

In the 114th Congress, he served as the Chairman of the Environment Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.[52] In that role, he has pushed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration "…to integrate commercial data into its weather forecasting models."[47] In September 2016, NOAA awarded two contracts to private weather satellite firms to provide data for its use.[53]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chang, Kenneth (April 19, 2018). "Trump's NASA Nominee, Jim Bridenstine, Confirmed by Senate on Party-Line Vote". Retrieved April 19, 2018 – via NYTimes.com. 
  2. ^ "GTR Newspapers | Find Local Tulsa, Bixby, Broken Arrow, Jenks, Union, and Owasso News, Sports, and Entertainment:Jim Bridenstine a Challenger for Dist. 1". Gtrnews.com. April 24, 2012. Retrieved July 5, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Jim Bridenstine". Restoring America Project. April 24, 2012. Archived from the original on July 7, 2012. Retrieved July 5, 2012. 
  4. ^ "About Jim Bridenstine the Republican Patriot For U.S. Congress". Jimbridenstine.com. Archived from the original on June 22, 2012. Retrieved July 5, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Oklahoma Swimming Records" (PDF). teamunify.com. April 9, 2016. p. 6. Retrieved May 2, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Tea Party favorite Bridenstine defeats incumbent Sullivan in Oklahoma House race". Fox News. June 27, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Five-Term Oklahoma Congressman Sullivan Suffers Primary Defeat". KOTV. June 26, 2012. Retrieved July 5, 2012. 
  8. ^ Dan Phillips (June 27, 2012). "Bridenstine Defeats Incumbent Sullivan In Primary". KTUL. Retrieved July 5, 2012. 
  9. ^ SEAN MURPHY, Associated Press (June 27, 2012). "Navy pilot upsets 5-term Oklahoma congressman". SFGate. Retrieved July 5, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Our Campaigns - OK - District 01 Race - Nov 06, 2012". www.ourcampaigns.com. 
  11. ^ a b "What is the House Freedom Caucus, and who's in it?". Pew research center. October 20, 2015. Retrieved October 26, 2017. 
  12. ^ Murphy, Sean (June 28, 2016). "3 incumbent GOP state legislators lose primaries". The Washington Times. AP. Retrieved October 26, 2017. 
  13. ^ "NASA Administrator Bridenstine? His name's in the mix for Trump's space team". Space News. November 11, 2016. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Coburn will work to oust Mullin after congressman breaks term limit pledge". News OK. July 8, 2017. Retrieved April 1, 2018. 
  15. ^ Official List of Standing Committee & Subcommittees for the 113th Congress.
  16. ^ "Official Alphabetical List of Members with Committee Assignments for the 114th Congress". Retrieved April 19, 2018. 
  17. ^ Official alphabetical list of the House of Representatives of the United States One Hundred Fifteenth Congress (September 1, 2017).
  18. ^ "Seapower and Projection Forces (114th Congress)". Armed Services Republicans. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Strategic Forces (114th Congress)". Armed Services Republicans. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  20. ^ "Subcommittee on Environment (114th Congress)". Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  21. ^ "Subcommittee on Space (114th Congress)". Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  22. ^ "Members". House Baltic Caucus. Retrieved February 21, 2018. 
  23. ^ "James Bridenstine top 20 Contributors, 2013-2014". The Center for Responsive Politics. May 28, 2015. Retrieved May 28, 2015. 
  24. ^ "James Bridenstine top 100 Contributors, 2013-2014". The Center for Responsive Politics. May 28, 2015. Retrieved May 28, 2015. 
  25. ^ "10 members of Congress took trip secretly funded by foreign government". Washington Post. Retrieved December 2, 2016. 
  26. ^ Dickson, Rebecca (June 16, 2016). "Lawmakers turned over gifts after secretly funded trip to Azerbaijan". TheHill. Retrieved September 7, 2017. 
  27. ^ "Sen. Cruz Names U.S. Sen. Bob Smith, Congressman Jim Bridenstine, and Texas Sen. Brian Birdwell Co-chairs of Vets for Ted; Bill Connor to Serve as National Director". tedcruz.org. Archived from the original on September 28, 2015. Retrieved August 26, 2015. 
  28. ^ a b "Trump has picked a politician to lead NASA. Is that a good thing?". Science | AAAS. September 1, 2017. Retrieved September 9, 2017. 
  29. ^ a b Chang, Kenneth (September 2, 2017). "Jim Bridenstine to Be Nominated by Trump to Lead NASA". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 3, 2017. 
  30. ^ a b CNN, Miranda Green,. "Senators oppose Trump's pick to head NASA". CNN. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  31. ^ a b Persio, Sofia Lotto "Why Donald Trump's NASA Chief Pick is a Controversial Choice", Newsweek, September 2, 2017, Retrieved September 2, 2017
  32. ^ CNN, Andrew Kaczynski. "Parts of Trump NASA pick's online presence scrubbed". CNN. Retrieved September 9, 2017. 
  33. ^ a b "Trump Picks Oklahoma Congressman To Head NASA". NPR.org. Retrieved September 9, 2017. 
  34. ^ a b c News, ABC. "Trump pick to head NASA faces fight over climate comments". ABC News. Retrieved September 9, 2017. 
  35. ^ Foust, Jeff (September 3, 2017). "Bridenstine faces obstacles to Senate confirmation". SpaceNews. Retrieved September 4, 2017. 
  36. ^ a b c Ben Guarino, Trump nominates Oklahoma politician and climate skeptic to run NASA, Washington Post (September 5, 2017).
  37. ^ "Trump's pick for NASA lays out agenda and answers critics". Ars Technica. Retrieved September 20, 2017. 
  38. ^ Cama, Timothy (April 19, 2018). "Senate Confirms Trump's Pick to Lead NASA". The Hill. Retrieved April 21, 2018. 
  39. ^ Chang, Kenneth (April 19, 2018). "Trump's NASA Nominee, Jim Bridenstine, Confirmed by Senate on Party-Line Vote". The New York Times. Retrieved April 21, 2018. 
  40. ^ Andrews, Natalie; Pasztor, Andy (April 19, 2018). "Senate Confirms James Bridenstine to Lead NASA". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 21, 2018. 
  41. ^ Foust, Jeff (April 23, 2018). "Bridenstine Sworn in as NASA Administrator". SpaceNews. Retrieved April 24, 2018. 
  42. ^ King, Ledyard (April 23, 2018). "After Bruising Nomination Fight, NASA Administrator James Bridenstine Facing More Challenges". USA Today. Retrieved April 24, 2018. 
  43. ^ Harwood, William (April 23, 2018). "Jim Bridenstine Sworn in as NASA Administrator". CBS News. Retrieved April 24, 2018. 
  44. ^ "Why Congress's newest space advocate says the U.S. faces a 'Sputnik moment'". Washington Post. Retrieved December 2, 2016. 
  45. ^ "Bridenstine introduces American Space Renaissance Act - SpaceNews.com". SpaceNews.com. April 13, 2016. Retrieved December 2, 2016. 
  46. ^ a b "Proposed legislation would close commercial space regulatory gap - SpaceNews.com". SpaceNews.com. September 15, 2016. Retrieved December 2, 2016. 
  47. ^ a b c "5 Space Leaders Making a Difference - SpaceNews.com". SpaceNews.com. August 25, 2015. Retrieved December 2, 2016. 
  48. ^ "Jim Bridenstine: U.S. spends 30 times as much on climate change research as on weather forecasting". @politifact. Retrieved September 9, 2017. 
  49. ^ Koren, Marina. "Trump's NASA Chief: 'I Fully Believe and Know the Climate Is Changing'". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-05-20. 
  50. ^ Welna, David (July 10, 2017). "House Poised To Approve National Defense Authorization Bill". NPR. Retrieved November 5, 2017. 
  51. ^ Cowing, Keith (September 15, 2017). "Bridenstine's Climate Record Is Different Than You Thought". NASA Watch. SpacRef Interactive. Retrieved November 5, 2017. 
  52. ^ "Subcommittee on Environment (114th Congress)". Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Retrieved December 2, 2016. 
  53. ^ "Two companies win first NOAA commercial weather contracts - SpaceNews.com". SpaceNews.com. September 15, 2016. Retrieved December 2, 2016. 

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Sullivan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oklahoma's 1st congressional district

2013–2018
Vacant
Government offices
Preceded by
Charles Bolden
Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
2018–present
Incumbent