WASHINGTON ― Senate Assistant Democratic leader Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is taking the lead in trying to bring down President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), because, for starters, he doesn’t believe in climate science.
“Rep. Bridenstine’s failure to accept fundamental scientific truths about Earth’s climate make him an ill-suited and dangerous choice to lead the agency,” Murray says in a Thursday letter to members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which is holding a confirmation hearing Nov. 1 on the nomination.
Here’s a copy of Murray’s letter, obtained by HuffPost.
Bridenstine, a Navy Reserve pilot who has no scientific background, has made it clear that he doesn’t accept scientific consensus on climate change. In a June 2013 speech, the congressman repeated the debunked claim that global temperatures “stopped rising 10 years ago.” He also criticized President Barack Obama for a “gross misallocation” of funds because he spent “30 times as much money” on climate change research than on weather research. (That wasn’t true, by the way.)
In July 2013, Bridenstine sponsored a bill to gut funding for climate change studies conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
A few months earlier, he tweeted that a House hearing on global warming was “canceled because of snow!”, suggesting he does not recognize the difference between local weather conditions and the broader planetary climate.
Here’s Bridenstine demanding an apology from Obama for spending too much money on climate change research:
Bridenstine’s nomination is already running into trouble with a couple of important senators. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the ranking member of the committee that will oversee his confirmation hearing, has said the head of NASA “ought to be a space professional, not a politician.” Florida’s other senator, Marco Rubio (R), has said he would prefer a NASA administrator who has the “respect of the people who work there from a leadership and even a scientific perspective.”
Murray said problems with Bridenstine’s record aren’t limited to denying climate science. He has also routinely opposed equal rights for women, immigrants and LGBTQ people. He voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act in 2013. He has defended all three of Trump’s proposed travel bans on people from six majority-Muslim countries. He has also suggested LGBTQ people are sexually immoral, and called the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling “a disappointment.”
Put all of these factors together, and you have a pretty lousy nominee to lead a federal agency of 19,000 people, said the Democratic senator.
The fact that Bridenstine doesn’t believe in climate science “should disqualify him from consideration,” she said. “Given his very public statements and positions, it is clear Representative Bridenstine would move us backwards not forwards, and I urge [committee members] to vote against his nomination.”
A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Murray’s criticisms.