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Jim Inhofe

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Jim Inhofe
Jim Inhofe official portrait.jpg
Official portrait, 2018
United States Senator
from Oklahoma
Assumed office
November 16, 1994
Serving with James Lankford
Preceded byDavid Boren
Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee
Assumed office
February 3, 2021
Preceded byJack Reed
Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee
In office
September 6, 2018[a] – February 3, 2021
Preceded byJohn McCain
Succeeded byJack Reed
Chair of the Senate Environment Committee
In office
January 3, 2015 – January 3, 2017
Preceded byBarbara Boxer
Succeeded byJohn Barrasso
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2007
Preceded byJim Jeffords
Succeeded byBarbara Boxer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oklahoma's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1987 – November 15, 1994
Preceded byJames R. Jones
Succeeded bySteve Largent
32nd Mayor of Tulsa
In office
May 9, 1978 – May 8, 1984
Preceded byRobert LaFortune
Succeeded byTerry Young
Member of the Oklahoma Senate
from the 35th district
In office
January 7, 1969 – January 4, 1977
Preceded byL. Beauchamp Selman
Succeeded byWarren Green
Member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives
from the 70th district
In office
January 7, 1967 – January 7, 1969
Preceded byJoseph McGraw
Succeeded byRichard Hancock
Personal details
James Mountain Inhofe

(1934-11-17) November 17, 1934 (age 87)
Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Kay Kirkpatrick
(m. 1959)
EducationUniversity of Tulsa (BA)
WebsiteSenate website
Military service
AllegianceUnited States
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
Years of service1956–1958
RankSpecialist 4

James Mountain Inhofe (/ˈɪnhɒf/ INN-hoff; born November 17, 1934) is an American politician serving as the senior United States senator from Oklahoma, a seat he was first elected to in 1994. A member of the Republican Party, he chaired the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) from 2003 to 2007 and again from 2015 to 2017. Inhofe served as the U.S. representative for Oklahoma's 1st congressional district from 1987 to 1994 and as mayor of Tulsa from 1978 to 1984.

Inhofe is known for his rejection of climate science.[2] He has supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage[3] and has proposed the Inhofe Amendment to make English the national language of the United States.[4]

Inhofe served as acting chairman of the Armed Services Committee while John McCain fought cancer in 2018. After McCain's death, he became chairman.[5] Since February 2021, he has served as Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

On July 15, 2021, Inhofe told Tulsa World he planned to retire at the end of his current term, in 2027.[6] In February 2022, The New York Times reported that Inhofe was planning to resign at the end of the 117th United States Congress.[7]

Early life, education, and business career

Inhofe was born in Des Moines, Iowa, the son of Blanche (née Mountain) and Perry Dyson Inhofe.[8] He moved with his family to Tulsa, Oklahoma, as a child. He was a member of the Class of 1953 at Tulsa Central High School,[9] and served in the United States Army from 1957 to 1958.[10] Inhofe received a B.A. in economics from the University of Tulsa in 1973.[11] Until his 1994 campaign for the U.S. Senate, Inhofe's official biographies and news articles about him indicated that he had graduated in 1959.[11] Inhofe initially denied the stories that uncovered the discrepancy,[11] but later acknowledged them.[12] After admitting that the stories were true, Inhofe explained that he had been allowed to take part in graduation ceremonies in 1959 though he was a few credits short of completing his degree, and did not finish his coursework until 1973.[12]

Inhofe worked as a businessman for 30 years.[13] He worked in aviation, as a real estate developer, and in insurance, eventually becoming the president of Quaker Life Insurance Company. During his curatorship, the company went into receivership; it was liquidated in 1986.[14]

Early political career

Inhofe greeting President Ronald Reagan in 1982

State legislature

Inhofe became active in Oklahoma Republican politics in the mid-1960s. He was a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1967 to 1969, and a member of the Oklahoma Senate from 1969 until 1977, the last four of those years as minority leader.

1974 gubernatorial election

In 1974, he ran for governor of Oklahoma. In October 1974, then President Gerald Ford visited Oklahoma to campaign for him.[15][16] A late October poll by the Daily Oklahoman showed Boren leading 74%–25%.[17] He lost to Democratic State Representative David Boren 64%–36%. Inhofe won only four counties in the election.[18] He lost 57 pounds during the campaign and was down to 148 pounds.[19]

1976 congressional election

In 1976 Inhofe ran for Oklahoma's 1st congressional district. In the Republican primary, he defeated State Senator Frank Keating and Mary Warner, 67%–25%–8%.[20] In the general election, he lost to incumbent Democrat James R. Jones, 54%–45%.[21]

Mayor of Tulsa

In 1978, Inhofe was elected mayor of Tulsa, defeating Democrat Rodger Randle, 51%–46%.[22] In 1980, he won reelection unopposed[23] and in 1982 he was reelected with 59% of the vote.[24]

U.S. House of Representatives


In 1986, when Representative Jones decided to retire to run for the U.S. Senate, Inhofe ran for the 1st District and won the Republican primary with 54%.[25] In the general election, he defeated Democrat Gary Allison 55%–43%.[26] In 1988 he won reelection against Democrat Kurt Glassco, Governor George Nigh's legal counsel, 53%–47%.[27] In 1990 he defeated Glassco again, 56%–44%.[28] After redistricting, the 1st District contained only two counties, all of Tulsa and some parts of Wagoner. In 1992 Inhofe was reelected with 53% of the vote.[29]


In 1987 Inhofe voted against President Ronald Reagan's budget, which included tax increases and no increase in defense spending.[30]

He first came to national attention in 1993, when he led the effort to reform the House's discharge petition rule, which the House leadership had long used to bottle up bills in committee.

U.S. Senate

Inhofe meeting with Neil Gorsuch in March 2017.


In 1994, incumbent Senator David Boren, who had been serving in the Senate since 1979, agreed to become president of the University of Oklahoma and announced he would resign as soon as a successor was elected. Inhofe was elected Boren's successor in an election cycle that saw the Republican Party take both houses of Congress and the Oklahoma governorship (the latter for only the third time in state history). Inhofe took office on November 16, giving him more seniority than the incoming class of senators. After serving the last two years of Boren's term, he won his first full term in 1996. He was reelected in 2002, 2008, 2014, and 2020.

Inhofe does not plan to seek reelection in 2026,[6] and was reported to be planning retirement by the end of the 117th Congress.[31] His retirement triggered a 2022 special election.



In the 2008 election cycle, Inhofe's largest campaign donors represented the oil and gas ($446,900 in donations), leadership PACs ($316,720) and electric utilities ($221,654) industries/categories.[32][33] In 2010, his largest donors represented the oil and gas ($429,950) and electric ($206,654) utilities.[34]

Inhofe meeting with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, February 11, 2021.

The primary PACs donating to his campaigns were Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association ($55,869), United Parcel Service ($51,850), National Association of Realtors ($51,700), National Rifle Association ($51,050) and American Medical Association ($51,000). Additionally, if company-sponsored PACs were combined with employee contributions, Koch Industries would be Inhofe's largest contributor, with $90,950 according to OpenSecrets.[33][35][undue weight? ]

Armed Services Committee
Inhofe shakes hands with Vice Admiral Michael M. Gilday, director of the Joint Staff, before his confirmation hearing for the position of Chief of Naval Operations at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., July 31, 2019.

As a member of the Armed Services Committee, Inhofe was among the panelists questioning witnesses about the 2004 Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse, saying he was "outraged by the outrage" over the revelations of abuse. Although he believed that the individuals responsible for mistreating prisoners should be punished, he said that the prisoners "are not there for traffic violations ... they're murderers, they're terrorists, they're insurgents".[36][37] In 2006, Inhofe was one of only nine senators to vote against the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, which prohibits "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of individuals in U.S. Government custody.[38][39]

When chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain was absent seeking medical treatment for brain cancer from December 2017, Inhofe became acting chairman of the committee. During this time, Inhofe helped secure the passage of the record $716 billion National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.[40][41] McCain died in August 2018, and Inhofe lauded him as his "hero". Inhofe also said that McCain was "partially to blame for" the White House's controversial decision to raise flags back to full mast after less than two days, as McCain previously "disagreed with the President in certain areas and wasn't too courteous about it".[42]

On March 6, 2019, Inhofe said he intends to put language in the next defense authorization act to reinforce Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement and reintroduce severe sanctions on Tehran.[43]

Committee assignments

CODEL James Inhofe during a visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, October 27–28, 2014

Inhofe, as of the 115th Congress, is a member of the following committees:

Caucus memberships

  • International Conservation Caucus
  • Senate Army Caucus
  • Senate Diabetes Caucus
  • Senate General Aviation Caucus
  • Senate Rural Health Caucus
  • Senate Tourism Caucus
  • Sportsmen's Caucus

Ideology and opinions

Inhofe was ranked the most conservative member of Congress on the 2017 GovTrack report card.[44] He received the same ranking for 2018.[45] For 2019, he was ranked as the fifth-most conservative member of the U.S. Senate with a score of 0.91 out of 1, behind Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Ted Cruz (R-TX).[46]

Environmental issues

Early years; 2003 Chair of Environment and Public Works committee

In December 1997, Inhofe argued that the Kyoto Protocol was a "political, economic, and national security fiasco."[47]

Before the Republicans regained control of the Senate in the November 2002 elections, Inhofe had compared the United States Environmental Protection Agency to a Gestapo bureaucracy,[48][49] and EPA Administrator Carol Browner to a Tokyo Rose, i.e. an English-speaking spreader of Japanese propaganda during World War II.[50] In January 2003, he became Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and continued challenging mainstream science in favor of what he called "sound science", in accordance with the Luntz memo.[49]

Climate change denial

Since 2003, when he was first elected Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Inhofe has been the foremost Republican promoting climate change denial. He famously claimed in the Senate that global warming is a hoax, invited contrarians to testify in Committee hearings, and spread his views via the Committee website run by Marc Morano as well as through his access to conservative media.[51][2] In 2012, Inhofe's The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future was published by WorldNetDaily Books, presenting his global warming conspiracy theory.[52] He has said that, because "God's still up there", the "arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous",[53][54][55] but also that he appreciates that this argument is unpersuasive, and that he has "never pointed to Scriptures in a debate, because I know this would discredit me."

As Environment and Public Works chairman, Inhofe gave a two-hour Senate floor speech on July 28, 2003, in the context of discussions on the McCain-Lieberman Bill.[56] He said he was "going to expose the most powerful, most highly financed lobby in Washington, the far left environmental extremists", and laid out in detail his opposition to attribution of recent climate change to humans, using the word "hoax" four times, including the statement that he had "offered compelling evidence that catastrophic global warming is a hoax" and his conclusion that "manmade global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people".[57][58] He supported what he called "sound science", citing contrarian scientists such as Patrick Michaels, Fred Singer, Richard Lindzen and Sallie Baliunas as well as some mainstream scientists. Two of these, Tom Wigley and Stephen Schneider, later issued statements that Inhofe had misrepresented their work.[58][59]

On July 29, the day after his Senate speech, Inhofe chaired an Environment and Public Works hearing with contrarian views represented by Baliunas and David Legates, and praised their "1,000-year climate study", then involved in the Soon and Baliunas controversy, as "a powerful new work of science". Against them, Michael E. Mann defended mainstream science and specifically his work on reconstructions (the hockey stick graph) that they and the Bush administration disputed.[56][60] During the hearing Senator Jim Jeffords read out an email from Hans von Storch saying he had resigned as editor-in-chief of the journal that published the Soon and Baliunas paper, as the peer review had "failed to detect significant methodological flaws in the paper" and the critique by Mann and colleagues was valid.[60][61]

In a continuation of these themes, Inhofe had a 20-page brochure published under the Seal of the United States Senate reiterating his "hoax" statement and comparing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to a "Soviet style trial". In a section headed "The IPCC Plays Hockey" he attacked what he called "Mann's flawed, limited research."[62][63] The brochure restated themes from Inhofe's Senate speech, and in December 2003 he distributed copies of it in Milan at a meeting about the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, where he met "green activists" with posters quoting him as saying that global warming "is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people". He signed a poster for them,[49] and thanked them for quoting him correctly. In an October 2004 Senate speech he said, "Global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people. It was true when I said it before, and it remains true today. Perhaps what has made this hoax so effective is that we hear over and over that the science is settled and there is a consensus that, unless we fundamentally change our way of life by limiting greenhouse gas emissions, we will cause catastrophic global warming. This is simply a false statement."[62][64] In January 2005 Inhofe told Bloomberg News that global warming was "the second-largest hoax ever played on the American people, after the separation of church and state", and that carbon dioxide would not be restricted by the Clear Skies Act of 2003.[65][66][67] In a Senate Floor "update", he extended his argument against Mann's work by extensively citing Michael Crichton's fictional thriller State of Fear, mistakenly describing Crichton as a "scientist".[68][69] On August 28, 2005, at Inhofe's invitation, Crichton appeared as an expert witness at a hearing on climate change, disputing Mann's work.[62]

In his 2006 book The Republican War on Science, Chris Mooney wrote that Inhofe "politicizes and misuses the science of climate change".[70]

During the 2006 North American heat wave, Inhofe said that the environmentalist movement reminded him of "the Third Reich, the Big Lie": "You say something over and over and over and over again, and people will believe it, and that's their strategy."[67][71] In a September 2006 Senate speech Inhofe argued that the threat of global warming was exaggerated by "the media, Hollywood elites and our pop culture". He said that in the 1960s the media had switched from warning of global warming to warning of global cooling and a coming ice age, then in the 1970s had returned to warming to promote "climate change fears".[72] In February 2007 he told Fox News that mainstream science increasingly attributed climate change to natural causes, and only "those individuals on the far left, such as Hollywood liberals and the United Nations", disagreed.[73]

In 2006 Inhofe introduced Senate Amendment 4682 with Kit Bond (R-MO), which would have modified oversight responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers. The League of Conservation Voters, an environmentalist group, said analyses for corps projects "have been manipulated to favor large-scale projects that harm the environment."[74] During the 109th Congress Inhofe voted to increase offshore oil drilling, to include provisions for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the House Budget Amendment, and to deny funding for both low-income energy assistance and environmental stewardship, citing heavy costs and unproven programs.[74]

In May 2009 Inhofe gave support to the idea that black carbon is a significant contributor to global warming.[75]

Inhofe has received money from the fossil fuel industry. For example: "Exxon's beneficiaries in Congress include the Oklahoma senator Jim Inhofe, who called global warming a hoax, and who has received $20,500 since 2007, according to the Dirty Energy Money database maintained by Oil Change International."[76][77]

Climatic Research Unit email controversy

On November 23, 2009, as the Climatic Research Unit email controversy emerged, Inhofe said the emails confirmed his view that scientists were "cooking the science".[78][79] On December 7 on the CNN program The Situation Room, Inhofe said that the emails showed that the science behind climate change "has been pretty well debunked"; the fact checking organization PolitiFact concluded that Inhofe's statement was false.[80] On the same day, Inhofe said he would lead a three-man "truth squad" consisting of himself and fellow senators Roger Wicker and John Barrasso to the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Inhofe was unable to secure meetings with any negotiators or delegations to the conference and only met with a small group of reporters.[81][82][83][84] The minority group of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works prepared a report on "the CRU Controversy", published in February 2010, which listed as "Key Players" 17 scientists including Mann and Phil Jones. Inhofe said it showed that the controversy was "about unethical and potentially illegal behavior by some of the world's leading climate scientists."[85][86] On May 26 Inhofe formally requested that the Inspector General of the United States Department of Commerce investigate how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had dealt with the emails, and whether the emails showed any wrongdoing; it found no major issues or inappropriate actions.[87][88]

Global warming temperatures

In July 2010 Inhofe said, "I don't think that anyone disagrees with the fact that we actually are in a cold period that started about nine years ago. Now, that's not me talking, those are the scientists that say that." The Union of Concerned Scientists said that Inhofe was wrong, pointing to a NOAA report indicating that the summer of 2010 had so far been the hottest on record since 1880. Inhofe added, "People on the other side of this argument back in January, they said, 'Inhofe, it has nothing to do with today's or this month or next month. We're looking at a long period of time. We go into twenty year periods.'"[89][90][91]

During a House committee hearing in 2011, Inhofe testified, "I have to admit—and, you know, confession is good for the soul ... I, too, once thought that catastrophic global warming was caused by anthropogenic gases—because everyone said it was."[92] Under questioning from committee member Jay Inslee, Inhofe dismissed the notion that he was less knowledgeable than climate scientists, saying that he'd already given "five speeches on the science."[92]

2015: Chair of Environment and Public Works committee

Inhofe holding a snowball on the U.S. Senate floor.

On January 21, 2015, Inhofe returned to chairing the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works as part of a new Republican majority in the Senate. In response to NOAA and NASA reports that 2014 had been the warmest year globally in the temperature record, he said, "we had the coldest in the western hemisphere in the same time frame", and attributed changes to a 30-year cycle, not human activities.[93] In a debate on the same day about a bill for the Keystone XL pipeline, Inhofe endorsed an amendment proposed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, "Climate change is real and not a hoax", which passed 98–1. Inhofe clarified his view that "Climate is changing and climate has always changed and always will. There is archaeological evidence of that, there is biblical evidence of that, there is historical evidence of that", but added, "there are some people who are so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change climate."[94]

On February 26, 2015, Inhofe brought a snowball to the Senate floor and tossed it before delivering remarks in which he said that environmentalists keep talking about global warming even though it keeps getting cold.[95]

Hydraulic fracturing

On March 19, 2015, Inhofe introduced S.828, "The Fracturing Regulations are Effective in State Hands (FRESH) Act." The bill would transfer regulatory power over hydraulic fracturing from the federal government to state governments. In his announcement of the bill, Inhofe said that hydraulic fracturing has never contaminated ground water in Oklahoma.[96] The U.S. senators from seven states (Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Dakota and Texas) cosponsored the bill.[97]

Paris Agreement

Inhofe co-authored and was one of 22 senators to sign a letter[98] to President Donald Trump urging him to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. According to OpenSecrets, Inhofe has received over $529,000 from the oil and gas industry since 2012.[99]

Political positions and controversies

Foreign policy

Israel Anti-Boycott Act

In October 2017, Inhofe co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (s. 720), which would have made it a federal crime for Americans to encourage or participate in boycotts against Israel and Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories if protesting actions by the Israeli government.[100][101]

Western Sahara

Inhofe has long supported the Polisario Front and has traveled to Algeria many times to meet with its leaders.[102][103] He has urged Morocco to hold a referendum on Western Saharan independence. In 2017, Inhofe blocked the Trump administration's nomination of J. Peter Pham for Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, citing a disagreement over Western Sahara.[104]

After the December 2020 Israel–Morocco normalization agreement, Inhofe sharply criticized the Trump administration for recognizing Morocco's claim over Western Sahara, calling the decision "shocking and deeply disappointing" and adding that he was "saddened that the rights of the Western Sahara people have been traded away".[105]

War in Afghanistan

Inhofe opposed the 2021 withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan under President Biden, saying that Biden should maintain "a relatively small troop presence until the conditions outlined in the 2020 U.S.-Taliban Agreement are fully implemented."[106]


Inhofe wrote the Inhofe Amendment to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, which was debated in Congress in May 2006. The amendment would make English the national language of the United States and require that new citizens take an English proficiency test. The amendment was passed on May 18, 2006, with 32 Democrats, one independent, and one Republican dissenting. The measure had 11 cosponsors, including one Democrat.[107]

Social issues

Gun policy

In the aftermath of the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, Inhofe blamed the "culture of sanctuary cities" for the shootings.[108]

LGBT rights

Inhofe pointing at a large photograph of his family, proclaiming none have been divorced or LGBT

Inhofe has generally been seen as overtly hostile by LGBT advocacy groups, earning a 0% in every one of his terms on Human Rights Campaign's position scorecard.[109] Inhofe is in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, against adding sexual orientation to the definition of hate crimes, and voted against prohibiting job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.[110] Inhofe's office has said he "does not hire openly gay staffers due to the possibility of a conflict of agenda."[111]

Inhofe campaigned for his Senate seat in 1994 using the phrase "God, guns, and gays."[112][113] In 2008, his campaign was noted by the Associated Press for running an ad with "anti-gay overtones" featuring a wedding cake with two male figures on top, fading into his opponent's face.[114]

In 1999, along with Republican colleagues Tim Hutchinson and Bob Smith, and Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Inhofe stalled the nomination of James Hormel, a gay man, as US Ambassador to Luxembourg for over 20 months specifically because of Hormel's sexual orientation.[115] President Bill Clinton eventually appointed him in a recess appointment, making him the United States' first openly gay ambassador in June 1999, and angering Inhofe, who held up seven more Clinton appointees in retaliation.[116][117]

In 2015, Inhofe condemned the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which held that same-sex marriage bans violated the constitution.[118]

Racial and gender civil rights

In 1995, Inhofe voted to ban affirmative action hiring with federal funds.[119] In 1997, he voted to end special funding for minority- and women-owned businesses. The bill he voted for would have abolished a program that helps businesses owned by women and minorities to compete for federally funded transportation; it did not pass.[120] The next year, Inhofe voted to repeal the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program,[121] which is designed to "remedy ongoing discrimination and the continuing effects of past discrimination in federally-assisted highway, transit, airport, and highway safety financial assistance transportation contracting markets nationwide" by allocating 10% of highway funds to benefit the business enterprises of racial minorities and women.[122]

Overall, in 2002, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) rated Inhofe at 20%, indicating that he has an anti-racial civil rights record.[123] Four years later, on December 31, 2006, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) rated Inhofe at 7%, indicating that he has an anti-civil rights and anti-affirmative action record.[124]


In 2001, Inhofe voted to loosen restrictions on cell phone wiretapping.[125] The bill, which passed, removed the requirement that a person or party implementing an order to wiretap a private citizen's cellphone must ascertain that the target of the surveillance is present in the house or using the phone that has been tapped.[126]

Free speech and expression

In 1995, Inhofe co-sponsored a constitutional amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would give Congress and individual U.S. states the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the American flag. The bill's primary sponsor was Orrin Hatch (R-UT).[127]

GI Bill reform

Inhofe, an initial sponsor of Senator Jim Webb's Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, subsequently withdrew support for this bill to support S 2938, a competing bill that would have provided benefits beyond those offered in Webb's bill.[128] But he voted to enact Webb's legislation in June 2008.[129]

Inhofe agreed to support legislation allowing military mental health specialists to talk with veterans about private firearms in an effort to reduce suicides.[130]

Economic issues


Trained by the U.S. Navy, Inhofe is one of the few members of Congress holding a Commercial Airman certificate. In 1994, when he first ran for the U.S. Senate, he used his plane as a daily campaign vehicle to travel throughout Oklahoma and visit almost every town in the state.[131] He has been influential in Senate and Congressional debates involving aircraft regulation.[132]

Taxpayer-funded travel

Inhofe has said that he has made over 140 trips to Africa over about 20 years and helped to get United States Africa Command established.[133] He has made multiple foreign trips, especially to Africa, on missions that he described as "a Jesus thing" and that were paid for by the U.S. government. He has used these trips for activities on behalf of The Fellowship, a Christian organization.[134] Inhofe has said that his trips included some governmental work but also involved "the political philosophy of Jesus, something that had been put together by Doug Coe, the leader of The Fellowship ... It's all scripturally based." Inhofe used his access as a Senator to pursue religious goals.[135]

Federal disaster relief

Inhofe has consistently voted against federal disaster relief, most notably in the case of relief for the 24 states affected by Hurricane Sandy,[136] but argued for federal aid when natural disasters hit Oklahoma.[137] In defense of his decision to vote against a relief fund for Sandy but not in Oklahoma after tornadoes ravaged it in May 2013, he claimed the situations were "totally different", in that the Sandy funding involved "Everybody getting in and exploiting the tragedy that took place. That won't happen in Oklahoma."[138] Inhofe pointedly did not thank President Obama for his attention to the tragedy in his state, so as to not be compared to Chris Christie.[139]


In April 2021, Inhofe expressed support for bringing back earmarks to the United States Senate.[140]


On February 12, 1999, Inhofe was one of 50 senators to vote to convict and remove Bill Clinton from office.[141] On February 5, 2020, he voted to acquit Donald Trump.

2016 presidential election

Early during the Republican Party presidential primaries in 2016, Inhofe endorsed fellow Republican John Kasich.[142] Since Trump's election, he has voted in line with Trump's position 94.2% of the time.[143]

Purchase of Raytheon stock

In December 2018, Inhofe bought $50,000 to $100,000 worth of stock in Raytheon, a major defense contractor that has billions of dollars' worth of contracts with the Pentagon. The week before, he had successfully lobbied the Trump administration to increase military spending. Ethics watchdogs said the purchase raised conflict of interest concerns, and noted that members of Congress are not allowed to purchase stocks on the basis of information that is not publicly available. Inhofe sold the stock shortly after reporters asked him about the purchase. He said the purchase was made by a third-party adviser who manages Inhofe's investments on his behalf.[144]


Inhofe meets with Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett

In March 2016, around seven months before the next presidential election, Inhofe argued that the Senate should not consider Obama's Supreme Court nominee because "we must let the people decide the Supreme Court's future" via the presidential election.[145] In September 2020, less than two months before the next presidential election, Inhofe supported an immediate vote on Trump's nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy caused by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death.

Inhofe also voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh (Trump's other two Supreme Court nominations) while voting against Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan (Obama's two Supreme Court nominations). All four were successful.

2021 storming of the United States Capitol

On May 28, 2021, Inhofe abstained from voting on the creation of an independent commission to investigate the January 6 United States Capitol attack.[146]

Personal life

In 1959, Inhofe married Kay Kirkpatrick, with whom he has four children.[147][148]

Inhofe is a private pilot and flies a Van's Aircraft RV-8 he built in 2002. He has attended the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh gathering over 40 times; in 2021, he said, "I've slept in the same tent for 20 years. If you're not sleeping in a tent, it's not like being at Oshkosh."[149][150][151][152]

On November 10, 2013, Inhofe's son, Perry Inhofe, died in a plane crash in Owasso, Oklahoma, flying alone for the first time since training in a newly acquired Mitsubishi MU-2.[153]

Inhofe was the first recipient of the U.S. Air Force Academy's Character and Leadership Award for his character and leadership in public service.[154]

Electoral history

Oklahoma governor

1974 Oklahoma gubernatorial election[155]
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Inhofe 88,594 58.76
Republican Denzil D. Garrison 62,188 41.24
Total votes 150,782 100.00
General election
Democratic David Boren 514,389 63.91
Republican Jim Inhofe 290,459 36.09
Total votes 804,848 100.00
Democratic hold

Tulsa mayor

1978 Mayor of Tulsa election[156]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Inhofe 39,236 51.05
Democratic Rodger Randle 35,213 45.81
independent (politician) Jim Primdahl, Jr. 2,412 3.14
Total votes 76,861 100.00
Republican hold
1982 Mayor of Tulsa election[157]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Inhofe (incumbent) 43,463 59.29
Democratic Tom Seymour 27,177 37.07
independent (politician) Robert T. Murphy 2,668 3.64
Total votes 73,308 100.00
Republican hold

U.S. Representative

1986 Oklahoma 1st Congressional District election[158]
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Inhofe 19,575 54.21
Republican Bill Colvert 10,577 29.29
Republican Joan Hastings 5,956 16.49
Total votes 36,108 100.00
General election
Republican Jim Inhofe 78,919 54.79
Democratic Gary D. Allison 61,663 42.81
independent (politician) Carl E. McCullough, Jr. 3,455 2.40
Total votes 144,037 100.00
Republican gain from Democratic
1988 Oklahoma 1st Congressional District election[159]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Inhofe (incumbent) 103,458 52.63
Democratic Kurt Glassco 93,101 47.37
Total votes 196,559 100.00
Republican hold
1990 Oklahoma 1st Congressional District election[160]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Inhofe (incumbent) 75,618 55.96
Democratic Kurt Glassco 59,521 44.04
Total votes 135,139 100.00
Republican hold
1992 Oklahoma 1st Congressional District election[161]
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Inhofe (incumbent) 36,354 67.71
Republican Richard L. Bunn 17,339 32.29
Total votes 53,693 100.00
General election
Republican Jim Inhofe (incumbent) 119,211 52.79
Democratic John Selph 106,619 47.21
Total votes 225,830 100.00
Republican hold

U.S. Senator

1994 United States Senate special election in Oklahoma[162][163]
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Inhofe 159,001 77.80
Republican Tony Caldwell 45,359 22.20
Total votes 204,360 100.00
General election
Republican Jim Inhofe 542,390 55.21
Democratic Dave McCurdy 392,488 40.56
independent (politician) Danny Corn 47,552 4.84
Total votes 982,430 100.00
Republican gain from Democratic
1996 United States Senate election in Oklahoma[164][165]
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Inhofe (incumbent) 116,241 75.34
Republican Dan Lowe 38,044 24.66
Total votes 154,285 100.00
General election
Republican Jim Inhofe (incumbent) 670,610 56.68
Democratic Jim Boren 474,162 40.08
independent (politician) Bill Maguire 15,092 1.28
Libertarian Agnes Marie Regier 14,595 1.23
independent (politician) Chris Nedbalek 8,691 0.73
Total votes 1,183,150 100.00
Republican hold
2002 United States Senate election in Oklahoma[166]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Inhofe (incumbent) 583,579 57.30
Democratic David Walters 369,789 36.31
independent (politician) James Germalic 65,056 6.39
Total votes 1,018,424 100.00
Republican hold
2008 United States Senate election in Oklahoma[167][168]
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Inhofe (incumbent) 116,371 84.18
Republican Evelyn L. Rogers 10,770 7.79
Republican Ted Ryals 7,306 5.28
Republican Dennis Lopez 3,800 2.75
Total votes 138,247 100.00
General election
Republican Jim Inhofe (incumbent) 763,375 56.68
Democratic Andrew Rice 527,736 39.18
independent (politician) Stephen P. Wallace 55,708 4.14
Total votes 1,346,819 100.00
Republican hold
2014 United States Senate election in Oklahoma[169][170]
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Inhofe (incumbent) 231,291 87.68
Republican Evelyn Rogers 11,960 4.53
Republican Erick Paul Wyatt 11,713 4.44
Republican Rob Moye 4,846 1.84
Republican Jean McBride-Samuels 3,965 1.50
Total votes 263,775 100.00
General election
Republican Jim Inhofe (incumbent) 558,166 68.01
Democratic Matt Silverstein 234,307 28.55
independent (politician) Joan Farr 10,554 1.29
independent (politician) Ray Woods 9,913 1.21
independent (politician) Aaron DeLozier 7,793 0.95
Total votes 820,733 100.00
Republican hold
2020 United States Senate election in Oklahoma[171][172]
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Inhofe (incumbent) 277,868 74.05
Republican JJ Stitt 57,433 15.31
Republican John Tompkins 23,563 6.28
Republican Neil Mavis 16,363 4.36
Total votes 375,227 100.00
General election
Republican Jim Inhofe (incumbent) 979,140 62.91
Democratic Abby Broyles 509,763 32.75
Libertarian Robert Murphy 34,435 2.21
independent (politician) Joan Farr 21,652 1.39
independent (politician) J.D. Nesbit 11,371 0.73
Total votes 1,556,361 100.00
Republican hold

See also


  1. ^ Served as acting chairman in the absence of John McCain from December 2017 – September 6, 2018.[1]
  2. ^ One child is deceased.


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  2. ^ a b John S. Dryzek; Richard B. Norgaard; David Schlosberg (August 18, 2011). The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society. Oxford University Press. p. 153. ISBN 978-0-19-956660-0. The single most prominent Republican when it comes to climate change denial is Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, famous for claiming in a Senate speech that global warming is 'the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.'
  3. ^ "S.J.Res.1 - Marriage Protection Amendment". June 7, 2006. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  4. ^ "U.S. Senate: U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 109th Congress - 2nd Session".
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  12. ^ a b "Senate Candidate Got Degree in '73, not '59". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis, Missouri. Associated Press. September 17, 1994. p. 6A – via
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  132. ^ The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association says this about Inhofe Archived October 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine: "An active pilot for more than 50 years, aircraft owner and AOPA member, Sen. Jim Inhofe has been at the forefront of every aviation debate since arriving in Congress in 1986, offering his real-world perspective. He was a major force behind passage of the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994 that is credited with reviving aviation manufacturing in America. During the current battle over user fees, Inhofe spent countless hours working behind the scenes to educate his colleagues in the Senate about the negative impacts of a user fee-funded system. He even took the unusual step of testifying before the Senate's aviation subcommittee to explain his opposition to user fees and the detrimental impact it would have on general aviation. Oklahoma pilots can be proud of Senator Inhofe's accomplishments and dedication to work on issues affecting pilots."
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  162. ^ "Election Results 1994 Primary Election" (PDF). Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  163. ^ "Election Results 1994 General Election" (PDF). Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  164. ^ "Election Results 1996 Primary Election" (PDF). Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  165. ^ "Election Results 1996 General Election" (PDF). Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  166. ^ "Election Results 2002 General Election" (PDF). Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  167. ^ "Election Results 2008 Primary Election". Retrieved March 24, 2021.
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  169. ^ "OFFICIAL RESULTS Statewide Primary Election — June 24, 2014" (PDF). Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  170. ^ "OFFICIAL RESULTS Statewide General Election — November 4, 2014" (PDF). Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  171. ^ "2020 June Primary Election and Special Elections". Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  172. ^ "2020 November General Election". Retrieved March 24, 2021.


External links

Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for Governor of Oklahoma
Succeeded by
Ron Shotts
Preceded by Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Oklahoma
(Class 2)

1994, 1996, 2002, 2008, 2014, 2020
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Tulsa
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oklahoma's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Oklahoma
Served alongside: Don Nickles, Tom Coburn, James Lankford
Preceded by Chair of the Senate Environment Committee
Succeeded by
Ranking Member of the Senate Environment Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Senate Environment Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee
Acting: 2017–2018
Succeeded by
Preceded by Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by Order of precedence of the United States
as United States Senator
Succeeded by
United States senators by seniority