Jim Bridenstine’s Senate confirmation hearing to run NASA revealed a lot about him: He doesn’t believe in LGBTQ rights and hangs out with known anti-Muslim personalities.
President Donald Trump tapped the Republican Congressman from Oklahoma back in September to lead the agency, which not only oversees space expeditions but also leads research about Earth’s climate. During Wednesday’s hearing, Bridenstine solidified his status as a climate skeptic and glossed over his connections to hate groups.
Human activity is only “a contributor” to climate change
During a back-and-forth with Hawaii Democrat Sen. Brian Schatz, Bridenstine admitted that humans “extremely likely” cause climate change. But when Schatz followed up, Bridenstine couldn’t bring himself to go a step further.
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“The scientific consensus is that climate change is primarily caused by human activity. Do you agree with the scientific consensus?” Schatz asked.
“If that’s the scientific consensus — that it’s primarily driven by human activity — what I will tell you is that human activity absolutely is a contributor to the climate change that we are currently seeing,” Bridenstine responded.
“I think right now we’re just scratching the surface as to the entire system of the Earth,” he added.
But the agency that Bridenstine will lead, if he’s confirmed, does have an answer.
“The vast majority of actively publishing climate scientists – 97 percent – agree that humans are causing global warming and climate change,” NASA’s website reads.
“I am not aware of that”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois, confronted Bridenstine about his appearances on Frank Gaffney, Jr’s radio show. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Gaffney as “gripped by paranoid fantasies about Muslims destroying the West from within.” And the organization Gaffney runs, the Center for Security Policy, is identified as a hate group.
Bridenstine’s been on Gaffney’s radio show seven times but claims that he had no idea Gaffney had called for Congressman André Carson, who’s Muslim, to be removed from the House Intelligence Committee because of his religion.
“Ma’am, I am not aware of that,” Bridenstine said. “I didn’t know that he had ever made those comments, if I did know that, I would have refuted it.”
Duckworth also pointed out that Bridenstine had attended the Restoration Weekend Conference at the David Horowitz Freedom Center in both 2014 and 2016. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls the Freedom Center “the premier financier of anti-Muslim voices and radical ideologies.”
“I am not aware of that,” Bridenstine said when Duckworth asked whether he knew that the Freedom Center had been identified as a hate group.
Democratic lawmakers also brought up Bridenstine’s anti-LGBTQ views. Bridenstine has said that he decried the “intolerant left” for allowing gay Boy Scouts. He’s also said he believes in a “sexual morality, that sex is intended for one man and one woman within the institution of marriage.”
Despite his previous comments, cited by multiple Democratic Senators during the hearing, Bridenstine assured Senators that he would not discriminate against LGBTQ people as NASA administrator, and that NASA’s stated policy — that diversity is key to mission success — would be upheld.
“I absolutely believe that every human being has value, and every person has worth,” Bridenstine said. “Everybody will know what the standards are for the work that they do and they’ll be judged according to equal standards and they will be given equal opportunity.”