Senator Jim Inhofe, Army Veteran and Ranking Armed Services Committee Member, Retires


Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., officially announced his retirement on Friday, clearing the way for another Republican to replace the Army veteran as the party’s top lawmaker on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Inhofe said in a press release that he plans to step down before 2023, citing a desire to spend more time with his wife, Kay, and their family.

“It is bittersweet, but with a clear heart, that Kay and I announce that at the end of the year, I will be retiring from the United States Senate,” Inhofe said. “Throughout our years, there has been one constant – to make the world safer and better for our 20 children and grandchildren and the next generation of Oklahomans.”

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Inhofe has played an influential role in US defense policy with more than 30 years of experience serving on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in Washington.

Oklahoman took over as acting chairman of the committee in late 2017, when he was then a senator. John McCain was battling cancer and officially took office after the Arizona senator died in 2018.

Inhofe’s time as president ended in 2021 when Democrats regained a majority in the Senate, but he still held immense influence as a ranking member of the committee.

The Army veteran has consistently been ranked among the most conservative members of the Senate and has pushed for Republican-backed policies in the military and increased defense spending.

As interim president, Inhofe was instrumental in passing the $716 billion National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019, which authorized a military salary increase of 2.6 % and increased active duty forces by more than 15,000 personnel.

After becoming the most senior member last year under Democratic scrutiny of the committee, Inhofe was an outspoken critic of President Joe Biden and confidently questioned the chaos surrounding the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“What we have seen in Afghanistan is nothing short of a disaster,” Inhofe said last September. “We’re struggling to find the words to properly describe how wrong it was, and we want to know why — we still want to know why President Biden left hundreds of Americans behind.”

In an interview with The Oklahoman on Friday, Inhofe endorsed his chief of staff, Luke Holland, to replace him and promised to campaign for him before the Republican primary.

Inhofe said he still wanted to focus on defense policy in the final days of his term.

“Today’s announcement is not the end of the road,” Inhofe said. “I still have work to do for Oklahomans over the next nine months, including passing the National Defense Authorization Act and holding the Biden administration accountable.”

Inhofe’s retirement paves the way for a former Air Force officer, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., to become the most senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he could end up chair the committee if Republicans retake the Senate midterm elections later this year.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a press release that Inhofe’s presence on the committee will be missed, but added that he was grateful for the politician’s service.

“I know the Inhofes will be happy to have more time with their accomplished family man,” McConnell said. “And even though the Senate will miss one of its greatest defense policy experts, I am glad our friend will continue to serve with us until the end of this Congress.”

— Thomas Novelly can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

Related: White House Ally Inhofe Succeeds McCain as Senate Armed Services Chairman

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