SASC Ranking Member Inhofe ‘Fully Engaged’ After Heart Surgery (Updated)

Sen. James Inhofe bounds around the Capitol complex. Even in his cowboy boots, Inhofe frequently can be seen moving quickly toward the Senate chamber or his Russell Building office.

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s top Republican energetically banters with colleagues and jousts with reporters in between sneaking peaks at the folders and briefing papers he always keeps nearby. So it can be easy to forget he’s 78 years old.

Inhofe got a stark reminder of that last week during a routine medical check-up that ended with the Oklahoma Republican undergoing quadruple bypass surgery on Friday. His office announced Monday morning the 19-year Senate veteran is “feeling great” as he recovers from a procedure for serious and previously undetected heart problems he said “shocked me.”

In the statement his office released Monday morning, Inhofe was feisty as ever, urging his fellow lawmakers to strike a deal to reopen the federal government:

“During a routine doctor’s visit last week, my doctor found that I had serious problems with my heart which resulted in quadruple bypass surgery this past Friday in Tulsa. The discovery shocked me as I had no visible symptoms that something was wrong. Today, I am feeling great and am fully engaged with my work here in Oklahoma. I encourage my colleagues in Washington to work with vigilance to reopen the government with a bill that represents Oklahomans and all of Americans. I may miss some upcoming votes on the Continuing Resolution, but my doctors agree I will return soon and even stronger to continue the fight to protect Oklahomans’ freedoms.”

For now, Inhofe’s recovery will remove from the Senate a leading voice for removing the remaining nine years of pending defense sequestration cuts. Inhofe, however, in recent months has been more closely aligned with the ultra-conservative wing of the Senate Republican caucus, which has been more focused on defunding or repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Update: House GOP Deputy Whip Tom Cole, also an Oklahoman, told reporters on Tuesday that Inhofe is in “high spirits” and is expected to make “a fully recovery.”

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