Florida's senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio, cast doubt Friday over whether President Trump's nominee to lead NASA, GOP Rep. James Bridenstine of Oklahoma, will be confirmed by the Senate.
Both Sunshine State senators said Bridenstine's experience as a lawmaker may make it difficult for even his Republican colleagues to confirm him as NASA administrator.
"The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician," Nelson, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, told Politico Friday evening.
"I just think it could be devastating for the space program. Obviously, being from Florida, I'm very sensitive to anything that slows up NASA and its mission," Rubio told Politico in a reference to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Bridenstine was critical of Rubio's immigration stances during the 2016 Republican presidential primary, but Rubio said that is not why he is concerned about him being nominated to head the space program.
"It's the one federal mission which has largely been free of politics and it's at a critical juncture in its history," Rubio said. "I would hate to see an administrator held up -- on [grounds of] partisanship, political arguments, past votes, or statements made in the past -- because the agency can't afford it and it can't afford the controversy."
Both Florida men did not say whether they would vote for or against Bridenstine, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
Trump nominated Bridenstine and 41 others to key administration posts Friday evening.