Sen. Inhofe’s Incredibly Tough Few Weeks

Sen. James Inhofe (far right) waits to greet Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos last Thursday, days before his son died in a plane crash. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Sen. James Inhofe (far right) waits to greet Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos last Thursday, days before his son died in a plane crash. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Recent weeks have not been kind to Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member James Inhofe. Since early October, Inhofe has undergone heart surgery and tragically lost one of his four children.

First, what Inhofe thought was a routine medical exam turned into major heart surgery that kept him sidelined from Washington’s budget fights for a few weeks.

Inhofe returned last week, and members of both parties greeted him with handshakes, back slaps and kind words.

“I’m pleased to see Sen. Inhofe here,” said Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., last Thursday during a SASC hearing on sequestration. “He’s too tough to let a few blocked arteries keep him from doing his work.”

SASC Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., also was pleased to see his longtime colleague back.

“We’re all delighted to have Jim Inhofe back with us today in full force and looking terrific,” Levin said as the hearing started.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno also welcomed Inhofe back to Washington.

Just as Inhofe was settling back into his work, however, tragedy struck when his 51-year-old son, Perry, was killed in a small plane crash in Oklahoma, according to a Tulsa newspaper.

Here’s what Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement:

“I was deeply saddened to learn that Senator Jim Inhofe’s son Perry was killed in a plane crash this weekend. My thoughts and prayers are with Jim and Kay and their family as they mourn this terrible loss. The entire DoD community stands with the Inhofe’s at this tragic time, with enduring appreciation for all they do on behalf of our military.”

Senate leaders had been planning to bring up the SASC’s version of the 2014 national defense authorization act before Thanksgiving. No word yet on how the Inhofe tragedy might change those plans. The Intercepts staff sends its condolences to Sen. Inhofe and his entire family.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett
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