90 Facts About Bill Nelson


Clarence William Nelson II was born on September 29,1942 and is an American politician and attorney serving as the administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


Bill Nelson previously served as a United States Senator from Florida from 2001 to 2019.


In January 1986, Bill Nelson became the second sitting member of US Congress to fly in space, after Senator Jake Garn, when he served as a payload specialist on mission STS-61-C aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia.


Bill Nelson retired from Congress in 1990 to run for governor of Florida, but was unsuccessful.


Bill Nelson was later elected Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner and Fire Marshal of Florida, serving from 1995 to 2001.


Bill Nelson ran in 2018 for a fourth term, but was narrowly defeated in the general election by then-Governor Rick Scott.


In May 2019, Bill Nelson was appointed to serve on NASA's advisory council.


Bill Nelson supported same-sex marriage, lowering taxes on lower and middle income families, expanding environmental programs and regulation, protecting the Affordable Care Act, and expanding Medicaid.


Bill Nelson chaired the Senate Aging Committee from 2013 to 2015, and served as ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee from 2015 to 2019.


Bill Nelson was confirmed by unanimous consent by the Senate on April 29,2021, and was sworn in by vice president Kamala Harris on May 3,2021.


Bill Nelson was born on September 29,1942, in Miami, Florida, the only child of Nannie Merle and Clarence William Bill Nelson.


Bill Nelson's father was a real estate investor and a lawyer.


Bill Nelson is of Scottish, Irish, English, and Danish descent.


Bill Nelson's father died of a heart attack when Nelson was 14 and his mother of Lou Gehrig's disease when he was 24.


Bill Nelson grew up in Melbourne, Florida, where he attended Melbourne High School.


Bill Nelson attended Baptist and Episcopal churches but later was baptized through immersion in a Baptist church.


Bill Nelson served as International President of Kiwanis-sponsored Key Club International.


Bill Nelson attended the University of Florida, where he was a member of Florida Blue Key and Beta Theta Pi social fraternity.


Bill Nelson transferred to Yale University after two years at the University of Florida.


Bill Nelson received a Bachelor of Arts with a major in political science from Yale University in 1965 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia in 1968.


Bill Nelson served on active duty from 1968 to 1970, attaining the rank of captain, and he remained in the Army until 1971.


Bill Nelson was admitted to the Florida bar in 1968, and began practicing law in Melbourne in 1970.


In 1986, Bill Nelson became the second sitting member of Congress to travel into space.


Bill Nelson went through NASA training with Senator Jake Garn of Utah.


Bill Nelson was a Payload Specialist on Columbia's STS-61-C mission from January 12 to 18,1986.


In 1988, Bill Nelson published a book about his space flight experience entitled Mission: An American Congressman's Voyage to Space.


In 1972, Bill Nelson was elected to the Florida House of Representatives as the member from the 47th district, representing much of Brevard County and portions of Orange County and Seminole County.


In 1980, Bill Nelson was reelected to that district, which encompassed all of Brevard and part of Orange County.


Bill Nelson was redistricted to the 11th congressional district, encompassing all of Brevard and parts of Orange, Indian River, and Osceola counties; he won reelection in 1982,1984,1986, and 1988.


Bill Nelson remained a member of the US House of Representatives until 1991.


Bill Nelson chaired the House Space Subcommittee for six years as a key member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.


Bill Nelson's district included Cape Canaveral and its space facility.


In 1988, Bill Nelson criticized President Reagan's policy to export American satellites for launch on China's Long March rockets.


In 1990, Bill Nelson ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida.


In 1994, Bill Nelson announced his intention to seek the office of Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner and Fire Marshal of Florida.


Florida's resign-to-run law compelled Bill Nelson to submit his resignation as Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner and Fire Marshal early in 2000 when he began to campaign for the US Senate seat.


Bill Nelson chose January 3,2001, as the effective date of his resignation, as that was the date on which new Senators would be sworn in.


In 2000, Bill Nelson ran as a Democrat for the US Senate seat vacated by retiring Republican Senator Connie Mack III.


Bill Nelson won the election, defeating US Representative Bill McCollum, who ran as the Republican candidate.


Bill Nelson was a Democrat in a state that Bush had won, though by a margin of only five percentage points.


Evangelical Christian activist James Dobson declared that Democrats, including Bill Nelson, would be "in the 'bull's-eye'" if they supported efforts to block Bush's judicial nominees.


Bill Nelson focused on safe issues, portraying himself as a bipartisan centrist problem-solver.


Bill Nelson obtained the endorsement of all 22 of Florida's daily newspapers.


Bill Nelson transferred about $16.5 million in campaign funds to other Democratic candidates, and won the election with 2,890,548 votes to Harris's 1,826,127 votes.


Bill Nelson ran unopposed in the Democratic Party primary, which took place on August 28,2018.


Bill Nelson faced incumbent Florida Governor Rick Scott in the general election on November 6,2018.


On May 28,2019, Bill Nelson was appointed to serve on NASA's advisory council.


Bill Nelson was a member-at-large of the council, which advises on all major program and policy issues before the agency.


Bill Nelson endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for President of the United States in 2020.


On February 22,2021, reports emerged that President Biden was considering nominating Bill Nelson to be the NASA Administrator, then, on March 18,2021, it was reported that Biden had selected Bill Nelson for the position, with Biden officially announcing the decision the next day.


Bill Nelson's nomination received widespread support from members of Congress from both parties, including from Bill Nelson's former opponent and successor in the senate Rick Scott, as well as the overall space industry.


The United States Senate in unanimous consent voted to confirm Bill Nelson to be NASA Administrator on April 29,2021.


Bill Nelson was sworn in on May 3,2021, by Vice President Kamala Harris.


Bill Nelson has styled himself as a centrist during his various campaigns.


On several occasions, Nelson has voted to reduce or eliminate the estate tax, notably in June 2006, when he was one of four Democrats voting for a failed cloture motion on a bill to eliminate the tax.


Bill Nelson voted against a Republican plan to extend the Bush tax cuts to all taxpayers.


Bill Nelson voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, often referred to as economic stimulus, proposed by President Obama.


In May 2013, Bill Nelson asked the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to investigate why consumers who carried out a real-estate short sale were having their credit scores lowered to the same degree as those who went through foreclosure.


Bill Nelson suggested a penalty if the issue was not addressed within ninety days.


Bill Nelson was frequently interested in product safety issues, and as such was frequently engaged in oversight and criticism of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.


In 2014, following an outcry by Florida property owners facing steep flood insurance-rate hikes, Bill Nelson supported legislation that would provide retroactive refunds for taxpayers who had experienced large hikes in their flood-insurance rates due to the sale or purchase of a home.


Shortly afterwards, citing intelligence sources, Bill Nelson said there was apparently "a link to Islamic radicalism," perhaps ISIS.


Bill Nelson supported the Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act of 2016.


In March 2010, Bill Nelson voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which passed and were signed into law by President Obama.


In January 2017, Bill Nelson wrote President Trump a letter protesting his immigration order.


In March 2010, Bill Nelson complained that President Obama had made a mistake in canceling NASA's Constellation program.


Bill Nelson argued against the $6-billion Commercial Crew Development proposed by the presidential administration and for a NASA-developed heavy-lift rocket built on Constellation's inheritance.


On July 7,2011, it was reported that Bill Nelson said Congress "starved" the space program of funding for several years, but suggested that the situation was turning around and called on the Obama administration to push for NASA funding.


Bill Nelson brokered a bipartisan compromise on ending import of Russian RD-180 rocket engines.


In 2017 and 2018, Bill Nelson sought to prevent Jim Bridenstine, President Trump's nominee to head NASA, from being confirmed in the Senate.


On December 18,2010, Bill Nelson voted in favor of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, which established a legal process for ending the policy that prevented gay and lesbian people from serving openly in the United States Armed Forces.


Bill Nelson voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 authorizing military action against Iraq.


In July 2017, Bill Nelson voted in favor of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act that placed sanctions on Iran together with Russia and North Korea.


In September 2016, in advance of a UN Security Council resolution 2334 condemning Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, Bill Nelson signed an AIPAC-sponsored letter urging President Barack Obama to veto "one-sided" resolutions against Israel.


In December 2017, Bill Nelson supported President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.


In 2006, Bill Nelson met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus at the recommendation of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group to try to improve US-Syria relations and help stabilize Iraq.


Bill Nelson did this despite the United States Department of State and the White House saying they disapproved of the trip.


Bill Nelson is an advocate for new gun control laws, including an assault weapons ban, a ban on magazines over ten rounds, and a proposal that would require individuals buying guns at gun shows to have background checks.


Bill Nelson spread misinformation via Twitter after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, falsely claiming that shooter Nikolas Cruz wore a gas mask and tossed smoke grenades as he shot people.


In July 2017, Bill Nelson introduced legislation to cut interest rates on student loans to 4 percent.


In 2011, Bill Nelson co-sponsored the RESTORE Act, which directed money from BP fines to states affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.


Rick Scott directed Florida officials to stop using the terms "climate change" and "global warming," Bill Nelson introduced an amendment to prevent federal agencies from censoring official communications on climate change.


Bill Nelson was criticized for sending campaign fundraising emails in the wake of Hurricane Irma.


Bill Nelson opposed and filibustered the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court.


In 2007, Bill Nelson was the only Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee to vote against an amendment to withhold funds for the use by the CIA of torture on terrorism suspects.


Bill Nelson's vote, combined with those of all Republican members of the committee, killed the measure.


In January 2018, Bill Nelson voted to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the National Security Agency to extend a program of warrantless spying on internet and phone networks.


In June 2017, Nelson voted to support Trump's $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.


In March 2018, Nelson voted against Bernie Sanders' and Chris Murphy's bill to end US support for the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.


Amid the criticism, Bill Nelson defended his assertions about Russian penetration, saying he and fellow Florida Senator Marco Rubio had been instructed by Mark Warner and Richard Burr, leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to warn the Florida Secretary of State about Russian interference.