New NASA head Rep. Jim Bridenstine narrowly wins confirmation, says he’s ‘tickled,’ ‘excited’

The NASA logo is displayed at the agency's booth during CES 2018 at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 11, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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The NASA logo is displayed at the agency's booth during CES 2018 at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 11, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Credit: Ethan Miller

Credit: Ethan Miller

The U.S. Senate narrowly confirmed Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine as NASA's new chief in a narrow 50-49 vote Thursday afternoon after a lengthy six-month nomination process.

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While that may not be a resounding mandate, Bridenstine told KRMG in an exclusive interview that he’ll focus on doing the best job he can - and he’s confident that even those who voted “no” will support him in his new role.

KRMG spoke with him by phone about an hour after the Senate’s narrow confirmation vote.

"We are in a very exciting time when it comes to space in the United States of America," he said, "and I am just tickled, I'm thrilled, I'm grateful that I have this opportunity to lead the world's best space agency."

Asked about the narrow margin of victory, he admitted he was a bit nervous at times, but now he’s ready to get to work.

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"While I didn't earn all the votes in the Senate, my number one objective is to serve this country in a way that makes all of them proud," Bridenstine told KRMG. "and certainly to get to know all of those senators very well, and to convince them that while some of them may not have voted for me, I want them to understand my passion, my desire for our country, and earn their support. And I think that's going to happen. I think people are going to say OK, now that he's in there, we're going to support him and we're going to get this country headed in the right direction as it comes to space.'"

He did get a little emotional toward the end of the discussion, talking about the people of the 1st Congressional District who sent him to office in 2012.

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"This opportunity's available to me because the constituents in the 1st District of Oklahoma trusted me with an office in Congress," he said, "and I did the absolute best I could to be as effective as possible on behalf of our entire country. And I want to express - just, just ultimate gratitude for having that opportunity, which ultimately resulted in this opportunity. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart, to all of my constituents."

As soon as President Donald Trump signs what’s called a “warrant” confirming the Senate vote, Bridenstine will officially end his term in Congress.

His office will remain open, however, and his staff will continue to be available to constituents who have issues with which they need help or have concerns.

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His successor will be chosen during the general election in November, and will take office immediately upon being elected.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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