Congressional Record Excerpts of NASA Administrator Michael Griffin's Confirmation Process 13 April 2005

Status Report From: United States Senate
Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2005

THE NOMINATION PROCESS -- (Senate - April 13, 2005)

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Mr. NELSON of Florida. Mr. President, yesterday it live the nomination and confirmation process as envisioned by our Constitution with regard to two nominees. The Constitution, of course, provides that it is a two-step process: the President nominates and the Senate then confirms or rejects. In this case, there was quite a contrast between the two nominees.

In one of my committees, the Foreign Relations Committee, we have a highly contentious, highly divisive debate raging over the nominee of the President, Mr. John Bolton, to be the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations. It is a very significant post representing the wishes of the American people, of the U.S. Government, to the world body, the United Nations.

While at the same time those confirmation hearings were occurring in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, another one of my committees, the Commerce Committee, was considering the nomination of Dr. Michael Griffin to be administrator of NASA. Dr. Griffin's nomination is quite a contrast to Mr. Bolton's nomination, for it is embraced almost unanimously in a bipartisan way. The extraordinary support is shown even to the point that the chair of the Science and Space Subcommittee, Senator Hutchison of Texas, and I, the ranking member of that subcommittee, both requested that the chairman of the full committee, Senator Stevens, accelerate the confirmation process. So that Dr. Griffin could be confirmed by the committee and we could get his nomination to the floor of the Senate this week, putting him in place as the administrator next Monday. NASA desperately needs to have a strong leader in place, particularly as we recover from the disaster to Columbia. We are also going to launch an expected flight for recovery somewhere about the middle of May. That is the contrast between two nominees.

I think one of the things that makes Dr. Griffin so attractive as the head of NASA is not only that he is literally a rocket scientist with six graduate degrees. Not only does he have exceptional experience in the Nation's space program, both the manned and unmanned programs, but he carries with him a demeanor that contains an element of humility, which will serve him well in the NASA family. NASA is a family. We have seen that borne out in the history of our space program in times of tragedy as we have had in the past. The NASA family comes together, and in times of triumph not only with the extraordinary space accomplishments we have had, but in times of extraordinary triumph where in fact it has been said that failure is not an option. The extraordinary success we had with Apollo 13 in which we thought we had three dead men on the way to the Moon when the Apollo module blew up, and how in real time people in a simulator back in Houston, people in mission control, the design engineers--all came together to figure out the fix. Since the main propulsion system had blown up, rapidly losing electricity, and how to design the circumstances which in a trajectory towards outer space they could get back home safely to Earth. And they did that.

That is another illustration of how the NASA family works when it comes together. It wants a leader who has an appreciation of that family, who knows something about the business of that family, and who in fact can comport themselves with humility.

Interestingly, this is a contrast to the other nomination being considered at the same time, on the very same day, in another one of my committees. This is a controversial nomination because of the alleged improprieties which stem not from a sense of humility but from a sense of entitlement, even bordering on arrogance in demanding one's way. Not one's personal beliefs and ideology--we can all debate those because those are differences of issues. But in this particular case, Mr. Bolton is alleged to have berated intelligence analysts and, according to the allegations from some former very high-ranking State Department officials, insisting that they be fired, dismissed, or transferred because their analysis of the intelligence differed with his. Contrast the personalities, the nominee to be NASA administrator and the nominee to be the U.S. Representative to the U.N., contrast of styles, contrast of attitudes, and contrast of capabilities. Thus, it leads to extraordinary differences in the nomination process.

I wish all of the nominations were as Dr. Griffin in NASA, except for one hiccup that I think we are taking care of with the junior Senator from Virginia. It is my hope that today Chairman Stevens will call the committee, that [Page: S3510] GPO's PDF we will vote Dr. Griffin out of the Commerce Committee and get his nomination to the floor. At least by tomorrow, so his name can be sent, confirmed, and the President can go ahead and swear him in.

EXECUTIVE SESSION -- (Senate - April 13, 2005)

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Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, as in executive session, I ask unanimous consent that the Commerce Committee be discharged from further consideration of Michael Griffin to be the Administrator of NASA, and that the Senate proceed to executive session for its consideration. I finally ask unanimous consent that the nomination be confirmed, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table, that any statements be printed in the RECORD, the President then be immediately notified of the Senate's action, and the Senate then resume legislative session.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The nomination considered and confirmed is as follows:


Michael D. Griffin , of Virginia, to be Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration represents our Nation's greatest hopes and aspirations. President Bush nominated Dr. Michael D. Griffin to be the next NASA Administrator on March 14, 2005. Dr. Griffin takes over an agency that is embarking on the President's Vision for Space Exploration, which will take America back to the moon and eventually to Mars. The Vision is NASA's biggest mission since the Apollo program began more than 40 years ago. Dr. Griffin will guide NASA on the first steps of this important journey that will define America's presence in space for the next several decades. At the same time, we still mourn the loss of the Columbia's crew as NASA readies the Space Shuttle for its return to flight next month. Dr. Griffin's first task will be to ensure that the shuttle program gets back on its feet safely and effectively. NASA needs its next Administrator immediately, and I thank the Senate for agreeing to the request from Senator Inouye and myself to discharge and approve this nomination.

Dr. Griffin's extensive background in space and science will serve him and NASA well. He is currently head of the Space Department at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Previously, Dr. Griffin was President and Chief Operating Officer of In-Q-Tel, an independent, nonprofit venture group chartered to identify and invest in cutting-edge commercial technologies for intelligence community applications. He has also served as CEO of the Magellan Systems Division of Orbital Sciences Corporation, as General Manager of Orbital's Space Systems Group, and as the company's Executive Vice President/Chief Technical Officer. Prior to joining Orbital, he was Senior Vice President for Program Development at Space Industries International, and General Manager of the Space Industries Division in Houston.

Dr. Griffin has served in a number of Governmental positions. With NASA, he served as both the Chief Engineer and the Associate Administrator for Exploration, and within the Department of Defense--DOD--he served as the Deputy for Technology at the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization--SDIO. Before joining SDIO, Dr. Griffin played a leading role in numerous space missions while employed at the Johns Hopkins APL, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Computer Sciences Corporation. He holds seven degrees in the fields of physics, electrical engineering, aerospace engineering, civil engineering, and business administration, and has been an Adjunct Professor at the George Washington University, the Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Maryland. He is the lead author on more than two dozen technical papers and the textbook Space Vehicle Design. He is a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and the DOD Distinguished Public Service Medal. He is also a Registered Professional Engineer in Maryland and California, and a Certified Flight Instructor with instrument and multi-engine ratings.

Dr. Griffin succeeds a close friend and former leader of my staff, Sean O'Keefe. Sean did an admirable job getting the agency's finances under control and, more importantly, holding NASA together after the Columbia tragedy. We were lucky NASA had such a leader during that trying time. At the Commerce Committee's hearing on Dr. Griffin's nomination I spoke of my recent travels with Sean, during which I was approached repeatedly by people who raved about Dr. Griffin . They all said he was the man for the job if he could be convinced to accept it. I am pleased the President appointed Dr. Griffin and I look forward to working closely with him and his team of talented professionals.

DISCHARGED NOMINATIONS -- (Senate - April 13, 2005)

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The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs was discharged from further consideration of the following nominations and the nominations were placed on the Executive Calendar:

*Howard J. Krongard, of New Jersey, to be Inspector General, Department of State.

*Daniel R. Levinson, of Maryland, to be Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation was discharged from further consideration of the following nomination and the nomination was confirmed:

Michael D. Griffin , of Virginia, to be Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

*Nominee has committed to respond to requests to appear and testify before any duly constituted committee of the Senate.

CONFIRMATION -- (Senate - April 13, 2005)

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Executive nomination confirmed by the Senate Wednesday, April 13, 2005:



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