Nominee for NASA deputy administrator testifies before senate committee
James Morhard, President Donald Trump’s nomination for NASA deputy administrator, testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Aug. 23, 2018, at his confirmation hearing.
While Morhard has no experience in the space industry, he told the committee his career as a civil servant in the U.S. Senate has prepared him for the job as the second-in-command of NASA.
“Over and over again, I’ve led organizations though difficult situations by creating an atmosphere of collaborative teamwork that turns visions and goals into realities,” Morhard said in his opening statement.
Morhard said that while he was the appropriations staff director, he worked to get consensus with Democratic and Republican lawmakers to get appropriation bills done. He said that included working with their staff, the agencies that would receive the appropriations, the Congressional Budget Office, the House of Representatives, the Office of Management and Budget and the White House.
“One year, only two bills were expected to pass,” Morhard said. “We worked both sides of the isle and together, all 13 were enacted.”
Morhard is currently the deputy sergeant at arms for the U.S. Senate and his been in that position since early 2015. He began civil servant career in the secretary of the Navy’s Office of the Comptroller. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Saint Francis University of Loretto, an MBA from George Washington University and doctorate in law from Georgetown University.
Before the hearing started, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., spoke personally for Morhard, listing his qualifications, specifically his six years as the clerk of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice State, and the Judiciary (now the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice Science, and Related Agencies). McConnell said Morhard was the point person on funding NASA and scientific community.
“We’ll all be sorry to lose our deputy sergeant at arms, but it’s actually for a good cause,” said McConnell at the start of the hearing. “Jim is completely qualified and uniquely prepared to serve as second-in-command at an agency as crucial as NASA.”
Along with McConnell’s endorsement, no senator present opposed Morhard as the nominee for NASA’s deputy administrator. The committee is scheduled to vote on Morhard’s nomination on Aug. 29. Should he be approved, the nomination would then go to the full Senate for a vote at some point in the future.
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity. You can find him on twitter @TheSpaceWriter.