US President Donald Trump has pulled another of his signature moves — vague decisions.
The White House has reportedly announced the nomination of James Morhard for deputy administrator of NASA. The reason why the nomination has become so newsworthy is because Morhard, who is a US Senate aide, has no experience in the field of space technology. And he has been nominated over Janet Kavandi, who is an astronaut and known leader of NASA’s research centers.
NASA Administrator: I’d like my deputy to be a space professional with lots of NASA experience. An astronaut would be great. My first choice is a very qualified woman.
White House: Here is a politically connected man with no space experience. https://t.co/XvHI9hHl1m
— Allison Kelly (@allisonkkelly) July 13, 2018
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, whose first choice for the position was apparently Kavandi (according to report by Quartz), has now given a statement saying, “This administration is committed to American leadership in space, and I look forward to working with Morhard upon his confirmation”.
NASA chief Jim Bridenstine reportedly wanted ex-astronaut Janet Kavandi to be his deputy. President Trump just nominated James Morhard, an ex-Senate aide with little space technology experience. pic.twitter.com/Q21KKwmpYy — AJ+ (@ajplus) July 13, 2018
Morhard is a longtime Senate staffer. A strong political background, but no space or other technical background. An interesting choice since NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was advocating for someone with technical expertise to be his deputy.
— Jeff Foust (@jeff_foust) July 12, 2018
“I look forward to working with Mr. Morhard upon his confirmation,” says @JimBridenstine about POTUS’ intent to nominate James Morhard as our deputy administrator. Statement: https://t.co/goqslcNBNr pic.twitter.com/GOpbeyrfAh — NASA (@NASA) July 12, 2018
As Quartz reports, many from the agency are concerned that the Senate aide’s strong political background may not be a very good balance for Bridenstine’s similar expertise as a lawmaker. Apparently, till now, Presidents “have sought to combine engineering know-how and political savvy by splitting those responsibilities roughly between the administrator and their deputy”.
The confirmation of Morhard’s role in the space agency will come only after the majority of the Senate votes in his favour.