Former Florida Senator Bill Nelson (D) lost his 2018 reelection campaign to Florida Senator Rick Scott (R), and not much was known regarding his future political plans. However, this week, the former Senator and Astronaut indicated that he was tapped as President Joe Biden’s (D) next pick to lead NASA.
In 2017, Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R) was narrowly confirmed in a 50-49 Senate vote. Nelson, himself, voted against Bridenstine, arguing that a politician should not assume the role of leading NASA. Although he hasn’t further commented on whether or not his views on this have changed, the former Florida lawmaker also maintained “radio silence” when questioned whether or not the reports of him being tapped for the position were true.
As news began to circulate regarding the prospects of Nelson leading NASA, a swarm of bipartisan support also began to flourish.
Bill Nelson would be an excellent pick to lead @NASA
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 18, 2021
Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R), who served with Nelson in the Senate, said that “there has been no greater champion, not just for Florida’s space industry, but for the space program as a whole thank Bill.” “His nomination gives me confidence that the Biden Administration finally understands the importance of the Artemis program, and the necessity of winning the 21st Century space race.” Rubio also agreed with Nelson’s view at the time of voting for Bridenstine, but he ultimately voted in favor in fear of the position remaining vacant for an extended period of time.
Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) also extended her support, noting that “few are as qualified to lead” the position as Senator Bill Nelson is. “I had the pleasure to work with him for years and I’m eager to collaborate to keep Florida the center of America’s space program.”
Few are as qualified to lead @NASA as @SenBillNelson. I had the pleasure to work with him for years and I’m eager to collaborate to keep Florida the center of America's space program. https://t.co/VZ48npt6yR
— Debbie Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) March 18, 2021
Finally, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) also shared his support, commenting that the former Astronaut “has been a steadfast, effective champion for NASA’s mission.”
Gaetz expressed that “after his departure from the Senate, his programs and ideas have continued to receive enthusiastic, bipartisan support,” and adding that Nelson “will make an excellent Administrator” who has his “full support.”
Florida Man Bill Nelson has been a steadfast, effective champion for NASA’s mission. Even after his departure from the Senate, his programs and ideas have continued to receive enthusiastic, bipartisan support. He will make an excellent Administrator and has my full support.
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 19, 2021