Oklahoma Sen. Inhofe to lose complete control of Armed Services role after Georgia election sweep

VIDEO: What the senate flip means for Senator Inhofe
  • Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) will lose complete control of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee after a surprise double-win from Georgia Democrats on Tuesday.
  • The U.S. Senate will soon have a 50-50 split, and the last time that happened back in 2000, chairmanships of Senate committees were split between co-chairs and each side had an equal number of members on the committee.
  • Inhofe took over the committee after the passing of late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) died while in office in 2018.

WASHINGTON — Tulsa native and Oklahoma’s senior U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) will no longer control the Senate Armed Service Committee after Democrats won two Senate seats during a special election in Georgia on Tuesday.

When newly elected Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are sworn in once their victories are certified, the U.S. Senate will hold a 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans.

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Inhofe told FOX23 last November that he didn’t campaign as much in Oklahoma for re-election because he was confident of his victory. Instead, he traveled around the country and campaigned on behalf of other members of the Armed Services Committee like Iowa Senator Joni Earnest (R-IA) who won re-election.

Inhofe, who himself is a veteran, said it was one of the biggest honors of his career when he took over the committee after the late Arizona Sen. John McCain died while in office in 2018. He told FOX23 back in November that a strong national defense is the first and foremost thing the federal government needs to do.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is the primary committee in Congress’s upper chamber that oversees defense spending, the Pentagon, and the nation’s armed forces, as well as some national security measures involving the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

The last time the Senate was split in 2000, all Senate committees were given an equal number of members and each party’s highest-ranking person on the committee were co-chairs.

Inhofe had hoped to carry out what is his last six-year term alongside the second term of President Donald Trump. When Trump was elected in 2016, Inhofe, at the request of the president’s advisers, went to Trump Tower in New York City to brief Trump about some of the nation’s national security policies and alliances.

Inhofe and Trump had been nearly in sync with each other on military policy until 2020 when Inhofe voiced concerns about troop withdrawals from the Middle East, and when he refused to put a law governing social media companies in a massive annual defense spending bill.

At one point, Trump called out Inhofe and attempted to shame him on social media to get him to change his mind, but Inhofe wouldn’t budge saying it was not appropriate to tie troop funding to something that has nothing to do with national defense and the country’s men and women in uniform.

Trump would veto that bill, but the House and Senate overrode the veto in what was the first veto override in his presidency.

Inhofe will soon have to work with a former colleague of his, now-President-elect Joe Biden, who he worked with in the U.S. Senate for years and even after Biden became President Barack Obama’s Vice President.

Committee chairmanship, according to Senate rules, does not depend on who is in charge of the upper chamber as President of the Senate, because that person, the Vice President, cannot conduct business as a committee member, only break tie votes that happen on the floor of the U.S. Senate itself.

It’s not clear who the Democrats will select to be Armed Services co-chair with Inhofe, but Rhode Island U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) is currently the committee’s ranking member.