What It Was
The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a nomination markup on seven presidential appointed positions, including Mr. Barry Myers for Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Representative James Bridenstine (OK-1) for Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). All seven nominations passed out of committee on party lines.
Why It Matters
NOAA and NASA play vital roles in science innovation, climate and weather research, national and economic security, and public safety. Filling leadership roles is essential for agencies to carry out their missions and goals, as is ensuring the administrator embodies the mission of the agency.
Under Senate rule XXXI, nominees neither confirmed nor rejected during the legislative session they are introduced must repeat the nomination process (excluding a second committee hearing) in the following one.
The confirmation process for Mr. Myers (CEO, AccuWeather, Inc.) and Rep. Bridenstine has been slow and contentious. Senators’ main concerns about Mr. Myers have been his ties to a for-profit weather company, his previous support of legislation that would have restricted NOAA’s ability to provide free weather services, and his lack of experience with the agency’s broad portfolio. Likewise, Rep. Bridenstine’s political ties, lack of leadership experience, low number of employees he’s supervised, and his divisive tactics in Congress have been cited as worries.
Both parties have acknowledged these issues, but only Republicans have accepted each nominees’ verbal commitments to separate themselves from their conflicts of interests and to rise to the needs of the new role. Conversely, Democrats believe that the risk and conflict are too great for NOAA, NASA, and the American people.
“All of these nominees are well qualified for their roles.” – Chairman John Thune (SD)
“Mr. Myers has undoubtedly been very successful running AccuWeather. But that is also the very crux of the problem with Mr. Myers’ nomination: the fact that he will be running an agency that directly impacts a family business.” – Ranking Member Bill Nelson (FL)
The nominations will head to the Senate floor and await scheduling. A simple majority vote is needed to be confirmed.
Find Out More
Related coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership
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- President and CEO RADM Jon White (Ret.): Myers Nominated to Join Gallaudet, Bringing Weather and Ocean Expertise to NOAA
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