Senator Jim Inhofe has been the face of the Senate Armed Services Committee during the last nine months.
Now he can officially lead it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the 83-year-old Inhofe, R-Okla., because new chairman from the committee on Wednesday, formally recognizing him since the chamber’s top voice on military and defense policy issues.
Inhofe has led the panel as acting chairman since its previous chairman, Sen. John McCain, who died a few weeks ago, went home this past year to get treatment for brain cancer.
During that point, Inhofe wielded significant influence on the annual defense authorization bill process, although he frequently noted that McCain was still being acting because the senior committee leader from afar.
A land developer before he was elected towards the House in 1986, Inhofe served eight years for the House Armed Services Committee along with the last 23 for the Senate counterpart, including since it’s ranking member from 2013 to 2015.
In your firm stand out, Inhofe referred to as the chairmanship an honor.
“America is facing new and unprecedented threats that are distinctive from anything we’ve seen before,” he was quoted saying. “As chairman, it will likely be my priority to deal with these threats while keeping a staunch resolve for service members and their families, as well as continue the bipartisan tradition of rigorous accountability and oversight with the Defense Department.”
Inhofe is not averse to saber rattling, calling for the deployment of fighter jets and warships to Europe in reaction to reports of Russia invading Ukraine, or blasting a flailing program, that he has seen many.
At one hearing in 2017, while grilling Navy officials over the littoral combat ship’s delays and price overruns, Inhofe lamented failures which includes the B-1 and B-2 bombers, the Army’s aborted Future Combat Systems, and today’s F-35 Lightning II and guided-missile destroyer Zumwalt.
“We’re always referring to cost overruns, we’re talking about increased costs and delays,” Inhofe said. “It’s not just the Navy. It’s an issue, it’s around.”
McConnell praised Inhofe, an Army veteran, because the right replacement for take within the key committee.
“Jim Inhofe filled in for Sen. McCain within a difficult year,” he explained Wednesday. “He rose on the occasion and helped lead the committee in passing crucial legislation that honored the demonstration of his predecessor and also the volunteers who defend our nation.
“He possesses rich experience for the committee, including decades at work with respect to American service members in addition to their own military service.”
Still, U.S. weapon makers have reason to be ok with Inhofe’s ascendancy to SASC chairman. Inhofe has repeatedly voiced opposition to statutory budget caps, hailed the $716 billion allotted to national defense for 2019, and argued doing his thing to shore the U.S. military’s edge against Russia and China.
“We’re glad we got towards the point where we could provide the main concern to defending our nation, because it should have always been,” Inhofe said with the 2019 defense policy bill in a June floor speech. “All the time that people are already held back within the last ten years, our peer competition, Russia and China, they haven’t held back.”
Known as a possible arch-conservative, Inhofe features a 96 percent lifetime ranking from your American Conservative Union and continues to be a partisan warrior on national security issues.
Like McCain, Inhofe struggled with Obama’s defense budgets as hindering military readiness and modernization. As far back as 2009, Inhofe spoke up against the military ignoring Russia as well as the North Korean nuclear threat to refocus on lower-tier foes.
During Jim Mattis’ confirmation hearing for defense secretary, Inhofe argued the Air Force was at its “smallest and oldest,” that simply a third of Army brigades were ready to battle, the Navy fleet was too small understanding that Marine aviator flight times were at historic lows.
Inhofe features a long reputation social conservatism, including his support of President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people from serving inside military.
After the Pentagon allowed gay individuals to openly serve inside the military, Inhofe in 2013 criticized the Obama administration for providing special leave for gay military personnel, analogizing it as with all the military “as their activism arm because of their liberal social agenda.”
Inhofe’s relationship with Trump has been less contentious than McCain’s.
Before Trump won the presidency, Inhofe was invited to Trump Tower within a national security advisory council. Since then, Inhofe has praised Trump’s Afghanistan strategy, his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, his withdrawal from your Iran nuclear deal and the opening from the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
While acting chairman, Inhofe has largely been deferential to Trump administration witnesses. He recently told one panel of Trump’s nominees on the Pentagon: “It’s a fantastic team. I’m just very proud. I’ve never seen a panel of more qualified people.”
Inhofe’s Senate floor eulogy yesterday paid tribute to McCain, but additionally noted their differences. He sided against McCain’s unsuccessful efforts to privatize military commissaries and trigger a fresh Base Closure and Realignment Commission process.
In opposing the BRAC round, Inhofe cited the upfront costs and questioned the wisdom of shuttering facilities “we might be needing even as we are rebuilding” the military.
That position puts him on the collision course with Democrats, who’ve advocated becoming a cost-saving measure, including SASC ranking member Jack Reed, D-R.I., and House Armed Services Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash.
Democrats made no secret they wish to ride anti-Trump sentiment to adopt control in the House. If they succeed, Inhofe would face a predicament McCain never had to in negotiations within the annual defense authorization bill.
Africa is going to be a subject matter under discussion in the SASC, as Inhofe has brought greater than 140 trips to Africa over about 20 years, and the man were built with a submit creating U.S. Africa Command. This year alone, he’s got vocally opposed shrinking U.S. military operations there after a disastrous Niger raid and called on Army leaders to assign new adviser brigades to Africa.
“If you pull out from operations in Africa, you’re planning to possess a massive terrorist transition taking through Djibouti,” Inhofe said. “They’re gonna go where there’s least resistance, and there’s a reputation that.”
Inhofe is really a proud defender of defense activities in their own state, particularly Fort Sill, home the Army’s artillery school.
Before the $11 billion Oklahoma-produced Crusader was canceled in 2002, Inhofe fought in vain to preserve it. It was to become the Army’s next-generation self-propelled howitzer, initially meant to destroy Soviet tanks in Europe.