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Politics Jeff Flake switches vote to save Trump's NASA nominee

22:32  18 april  2018
22:32  18 april  2018 Source:   cnn.com

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For about an hour, no one was sure what was going to happen to break a tie vote to end debate on the next NASA administrator.

Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) switched his vote from "no" to "yes," to end debate over NASA administrator nominee , Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), on April 18. Gabbard casts single 'present' vote on Trump impeachment.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 01: Rep. James Bridenstine (R-OK) testifies before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee during his confirmation hearing to be administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill November 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Democratic members of the committee expressed reservations about Bridenstine's qualifications to head NASA, including his political career and lack of science credentials. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 01: Rep. James Bridenstine (R-OK) testifies before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee during his confirmation hearing to be administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill November 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Democratic members of the committee expressed reservations about Bridenstine's qualifications to head NASA, including his political career and lack of science credentials. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Senate deadlocked 49-49 for about an hour Wednesday on a vote to break a filibuster of Rep. James Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma, to be the next NASA administrator until Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, returned to the floor and switched his vote to yes.

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Trump ’ s nominee for NASA administrator comes under fire at Senate hearing. Bridenstine's confirmation comes at a critical time for the agency, which is preparing to return to the moon and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) sided with Democrats to block him, only to switch his vote after some time had passed.

Jeff Flake of Arizona had initially voted against limiting debate on the nomination of GOP Rep. Under the normal course of events, a generally partisan tie vote could have been overcome with the assistance of Vice President Mike Pence, voting to break the tie in favor of Trump ’ s nominee .

The motion then passed on a partisan 50-48 vote. Flake, a vocal critic of the President's, had been the only Republican to vote against Bridenstine.

Typically, when a vote like this is tied, Vice President Mike Pence would come to the chamber and break it. But he was in Mar-a-Lago with the president making that an impractical alternative.

Both Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, who is ill, and Illinois Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who just had a baby, were absent.

The party-line vote against Bridenstine reflects the steep opposition from Democrats about President Donald Trump's nominee to head the space agency, who they believe is not a "space professional" in the words of Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat. One Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, had previously expressed concerns about Bridenstine but voted for him in the end.

Democrats also complained about his views on climate change.

"NASA is one of the few remaining areas that has largely avoided the bitter partisanship that has invaded far too many areas of government and our society today," Nelson said in a floor speech.

When he was nominated, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called Bridenstine a "strong, principled and effective leader" who will "work hard to advance our national space policy goals, expand human space exploration and secure America's leadership in space."

A final confirmation vote for Bridenstine is expected Thursday.

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