WASHINGTON — Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, a defense hawk and frequent traveler to domestic and overseas military bases, is poised to become the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
If the move gains approval from Senate Republicans, Inhofe, of Tulsa, would take over the spot from Arizona Sen. John McCain when the new Congress begins in January.
“It's not done yet, but I think it will be done,” Inhofe said in an interview on Wednesday.
Senate Republicans have six-year term limits for their top committee spots.
Inhofe will be giving up his spot as the top Republican — or ranking member — on the Environment and Public Works Committee, where he has helped author highway bills and gained international notice for his crusade against legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Inhofe, of Tulsa, has served on the Armed Services committee since being sworn into the U.S. Senate 18 years ago this month and has been a fierce advocate for Oklahoma's military installations, fighting all efforts to cut back units or weapons systems relevant to the state's bases.
In the mid-1990s, he waged a long-running — and ultimately unsuccessful — battle against President Bill Clinton's administration's plan to privatize Air Force maintenance jobs in San Antonio that would have otherwise moved to Tinker Air Force Base. And early in President George W. Bush's administration, he fought the decision to kill development of a new Army cannon; after losing that battle, he won funding for research on a smaller replacement cannon.