You’d think Bill Nelson would be well known for many reasons – state legislator, Congressman, Senator… but in reality the only thing Floridians really know about him is that he orbited the earth as a payload specialist on Columbia’s STS-61-C mission with NASA more than three decades ago.
You’d also think, given that it’s his favorite talking point, Bill Nelson would have saved NASA from President Obama’s cuts. But when Nelson had his chance to keep NASA in Florida, and the Kennedy Space Center safe, he didn’t.
Here are the facts:
NASA Predicted The Loss Of Between 9,870 And 28,200 Jobs On The Space Coast As A Result Of The Discontinuation Of The Shuttle Program. “Shuttle Discovery is set to launch from Kennedy Space Center at about 9:20 tonight, leaving only eight more scheduled missions before NASA retires the fleet in 2010 -- and devastates the Space Coast economy. Figures released by NASA this week predict the retirement of the shuttle will result in the loss of at least 3,500 jobs at KSC. Some industry officials say the number could be as high as 10,000. The best-case scenario would result in the loss of about 9,870 other jobs in the surrounding community; the worst-case number is 28,200.” (Robert Block and Mark K. Matthews, “Retiring Shuttle May Doom 38,200 Space Coast Jobs,” Orlando Sentinel, 3/11/09)
Orlando Sentinel: “But The One Floridian In Washington Who Has The Most Stature And Clout To Fight To Keep That From Happening -- U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, A Democrat Who Once Flew Aboard The Shuttle -- Has Been Able To Do Little To Prevent The Looming Economic Disaster.” (Robert Block and Mark K. Matthews, “Retiring Shuttle May Doom 38,200 Space Coast Jobs,” Orlando Sentinel, 3/11/09)
A Former NASA Ally In Congress Said Nelson Is A “Nice Guy” Who Hasn’t Been Up To The Task Of Protecting NASA’s Funding. “[Nelson’s] critics say he has failed, and even a former NASA ally in Congress says he has not done enough. ‘Right now, NASA needs an angel in the House or Senate. And that’s a role that we were hoping Bill Nelson would step up to,’ said former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon, R-Indialantic, who retired in 2008. Weldon said Nelson -- though a ‘nice guy’ -- hasn’t been up to the task.” (Robert Block and Mark K. Matthews, “Retiring Shuttle May Doom 38,200 Space Coast Jobs,” Orlando Sentinel, 3/11/09)
One Space Industry Executive Called Nelson’s Entire Approach To Saving The Shuttle Industry “Pathetic.” “Some in the industry said Nelson blew an opportunity to help KSC during debate last month on the economic-stimulus bill. Rather than focus on the jobs NASA would create -- the point of the aid package -- Nelson emphasized the agency’s benefits for education and technological advancements. That kicked off a flurry of e-mails -- obtained by the Sentinel -- among irate space-industry executives, one of whom called Nelson’s entire approach ‘pathetic.’” (Robert Block and Mark K. Matthews, “Retiring Shuttle May Doom 38,200 Space Coast Jobs,” Orlando Sentinel, 3/11/09)
“As a career politician in Washington, D.C., who should have a lot of connections and clout, Bill Nelson failed to step up and help protect the Space Coast from Obama’s NASA cuts, that cost Florida families their jobs. With all that time in office, his history with NASA, and his pledged commitment to the Space Coast, Bill Nelson has proven his career is mission impossible.” – Taryn Fenske, RNC Spokesperson
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