Congress, NASA

A “capable” choice and a “winning combination”

Lost in the discussion of budgets and blocked stimulus funds is the status of the NASA administrator and deputy administrator nominations, announced on May 23. There were a couple of minor notes on those topics today, though. In the Huntsville Times Sen. Richard Shelby calls administrator nominee Charles Bolden “a capable man” but unlike some of his colleagues doesn’t give the nomination an outright endorsement. “The confirmation process will have to take place, and I’m not making any predictions or judgments, but (Bolden) certainly is a capable man and has the qualifications,” Shelby said. “We’ll have to see what the Senate thinks and move from there.”

Meanwhile, former astronaut and deputy administrator Fred Gregory issued a rebuttal to a New York Times editorial last week that raised some questions about both Bolden and Lori Garver, the deputy administrator nominee. “The Times editorial… demonstrates a lack of knowledge of NASA’s history and past leaders who have energized this country’s space endeavors for five decades,” he writes on the blog of the Coalition for Space Exploration. “Indeed, the president’s choices bring different strengths, but diversity is key to the creation of a thriving, innovative environment.” Later: “President Obama’s decision to fill the top two posts with a charismatic leader and space veteran, along with a polished policy strategist makes for a winning combination.”

As for when the Senate might hold confirmation hearings for Bolden and Garver, no date has yet been announced. It’s looking less and less likely that it can be wrapped up this month because of crowded schedules. Congress goes on recess after the 26th for a week for the Independence Day holiday, so it might not get done until early or even mid July.

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