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Bill Nelson, President Biden's pick for NASA administrator. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Biden has picked former Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) to lead NASA.

Why it matters: Nelson has been a staunch political advocate for the space agency for decades, even flying aboard the space shuttle in 1986.

  • He would become the second politician-turned-NASA administrator in a row, if confirmed, following former President Trump’s administrator Jim Bridenstine, who was a former congressman from Oklahoma.

The big picture: If confirmed, Nelson will lead NASA as the space agency works to send astronauts back to the surface of the Moon, paving the way for an eventual mission to Mars.

  • Nelson will also be responsible for working with the agency's commercial partners — Boeing and SpaceX — to fly astronauts to the International Space Station. (SpaceX's next crewed flight is expected for the end of April.)

What they're saying: Nelson already has the support from one Republican senator, Marco Rubio (R-Florida), who tweeted that the former senator "would be an excellent pick to lead @NASA."

  • Bridenstine also weighed in, saying in a statement that "Bill Nelson will have the influence to deliver strong budgets for NASA and, when necessary, he will be able to enlist the help of his friend, President Joe Biden. The Senate should confirm Bill Nelson without delay."

Yes, but: Some see Nelson as a political throwback, historically more focused on big government programs than the private partnerships that have started to come to the forefront for NASA in recent years.

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.