Florida’s members of the United States Senate don’t agree on much, but with a Category 5 hurricane bearing down on Miami and the east coast, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio are standing shoulder-to-shoulder in advocating for their state.
Yes, we expect leaders to put aside their differences and come together in times like this. But the trend of bipartisan agreement between those two actually started a few days ago, although current events shoved the news to the back pages.
They agree that President Trump offered up a lousy nominee to head NASA.
The choice of climate-denier U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma to lead the space agency was just the latest example of the president’s tone-deaf timing, given the devastation in Texas from Hurricane Harvey and the way Hurricane Irma just flattened Caribbean islands on its way to Florida.
The nomination came last week in what has become known as the “Friday news dump” – that time when leaders try to slip controversial items into a period where they don’t think people will be paying attention.
Nelson and Rubio were paying attention.
Bridenstine has shown a keen interest in the space program and has indicated he would fast-track the mission to send astronauts to Mars.
That is all good.
But weather research also is a key part of NASA’s mission, and Bridenstine has left no doubt where he stands on the issue that humans are contributing to climate change.
In a 2013 speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, he said, “And we also know that (President Obama) spends 30 times as much money on global warming research as he does on weather forecasting and warning. For this gross misallocation, the people of Oklahoma are ready to accept the president’s apology, and I intend to submit legislation to fix this.”
Politifact rated Bridenstine’s assertion as mostly false.
“The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician,” Nelson told Politico in a statement.
Rubio told Politico he agreed with Nelson, and added that because the Senate must approve the nominee, the “baggage” Bridenstine carries means his confirmation is no sure thing.
“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 said.
What’s happening in this hurricane season is exactly what climate experts have been warning about for years.
They say because of human actions, storms would be stronger than anything we’ve seen and they would be more frequent. Coastal areas would be devastated and the economic damage would be in the trillions of dollars.
Well, it’s happening. Trump’s response is to turn a key agency involved in climate research over to someone who says it’s all fake news.