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Sat Nov 11, 2017, 05:34 AM

Inhofe Shuts Down Talk Of SASC Succession

https://breakingdefense.com/2017/11/inhofe-shuts-down-talk-of-sasc-succession/

Inhofe Shuts Down Talk Of SASC Succession
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
on November 10, 2017 at 12:16 PM


WASHINGTON: Jim Inhofe is probably the next chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee – but he definitely doesn’t want to talk about it. The Oklahoma conservative’s refusal to talk, even in private, about succeeding the ailing Sen. John McCain speaks both to Inhofe’s character and the rapidly vanishing senatorial decorum he tries to preserve. At a Defense Writers’ Group breakfast this week, Inhofe was happy to talk about his many differences with McCain on policy (more on those below). When a reporter half-jokingly raised the prospect of him becoming chairman, however, Inhofe was quick to shut the topic down.
(snip)

The topic is taboo with Inhofe even behind closed doors, sources told us. (Five independent sources spoke to us for this article on the strict condition that they not be identified in any way, given the sensitivity of the topic). Even practical aspects of preparing for a possible transition are apparently off the table.
(snip)

What Inhofe will talk about, however, is policy, including where he splits from McCain. “I do disagree on a few things with McCain,” Inhofe told the Defense Writers’ Group. He doesn’t share the chairman’s recent criticism of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, for instance. In fact, Inhofe calls Mattis “a godsend” and suggested McCain’s criticism of him relates less to the secretary himself than to “a personal thing: There’s bad blood between the president and Sen. McCain.”

Nor does Inhofe share McCain’s frustration with the number of defense industry executives being nominated for top jobs in the Pentagon. While McCain has threatened to refuse any more industry nominees, Inhofe said he prefers to consider each nominee as an individual and noted that experience in industry can be relevant and helpful in a Defense Department post.

Inhofe also opposed McCain’s push for a new Base Realignment And Closure round. (BRAC didn’t make it into the final National Defense Authorization Act). While there might be cause for a BRAC round “at the appropriate time,” Inhofe told reporters, it doesn’t make sense to shut down excess infrastructure when we’re trying to grow the military and might need it. Besides, the senator said, BRACs always cost money up front and only start returning savings after several years, and the budget can’t bear the short-term cost right now.

Finally, Inhofe said in the final minutes of the breakfast discussion, he doesn’t share McCain’s ferocious approach to the massive F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which the chairman once blasted as “a scandal and a tragedy.”
(snip)

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