Republican Senator’s Pleas to Get Home For His Anniversary Fail

“Sen. Inhofe well knows there are soldiers in Afghanistan right now on their anniversary,” says a fellow Republican.

US Senator James Inhofe is asking the Senate to move quickly on a defense spending measure.
National Journal
Stacy Kaper
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Stacy Kaper
Dec. 19, 2013, 9:53 a.m.

The Sen­ate is sched­uled to work late in­to the night Thursday to pass a de­fense bill, but one mem­ber is beg­ging the world’s most de­lib­er­at­ive body to fin­ish its work in time to get him home to his wife.

“It hap­pens that to­mor­row is my 54th wed­ding an­niversary,” Sen. James In­hofe, R-Okla., said Wed­nes­day. “I would really like to ask both the ma­jor­ity and the minor­ity if we couldn’t yield back a little bit of time.”

The Sen­ate is slated to work on the bill un­til a vote around 11 p.m., but if mem­bers of both parties were will­ing to vol­un­tar­ily trun­cate de­bate, the vote could oc­cure earli­er and get In­hofe home.

“So have mercy, give us a break and let’s try to get this thing voted on and go home and Merry Christ­mas to every­body.”

2013 has been a par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult year for In­hofe. He un­der­went emer­gency heart sur­gery in Oc­to­ber, and in Novem­ber his son died in a plane crash. In­hofe didn’t men­tion either event in his plea to the Sen­ate, in­stead fo­cus­ing on his an­niversary plans.

“I would sure like those 20 kids and grandkids that are wait­ing for me — for our big din­ner “¦ to­mor­row night,” he said.

In­hofe, the rank­ing Re­pub­lic­an on the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, is the stew­ard of the Na­tion­al De­fense Au­thor­iz­a­tion Act. Passing the bill be­fore year’s end is ne­ces­sary to pre­vent a lapse in crit­ic­al na­tion­al se­cur­ity ini­ti­at­ives, in­clud­ing com­bat pay, mil­it­ary-pay in­creases, re­sources for troops in Afgh­anistan, and coun­terter­ror­ism meas­ures.

In­hofe, to­geth­er with Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee Chair­man Carl Lev­in, has worked to move the bill via an ex­ped­ited pro­cess in or­der to wrap up the meas­ure be­fore Con­gress ad­journs for the year.

That stream­lined pro­cess, however, did not al­low for amend­ments to the de­fense meas­ure, which raised the ire of Re­pub­lic­ans who are still smart­ing over Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id’s de­cision to pare back minor­ity fili­buster rights on ex­ec­ut­ive nom­in­ees.

In re­tali­ation, Re­pub­lic­ans have at times fo­cused on stretch­ing out de­bate as long as pos­sible in re­cent weeks, but In­hofe asked that those dif­fer­ences be put aside.

“I would really like to ask both the ma­jor­ity and the minor­ity if we couldn’t yield back a little bit of time,” he said. “We know we are go­ing to have the votes for this [bill].”

Up­dated at 9:00 p.m.

In­hofe’s plea for an earli­er vote has been re­jec­ted, largely by his Re­pub­lic­an col­leagues, and the Ok­laho­man is none-too-pleased about it.

“Today is my 54th wed­ding an­niversary,” In­hofe said Thursday even­ing. “We had a big thing planned to­night, which I had every­body there, all 20 kids and grandkids. And they’re just wast­ing time of course, they are not do­ing any­thing, so I came up here to see if maybe there might be a strategy that we could do it.”

But fel­low Re­pub­lic­an Jeff Ses­sions was un­moved by In­hofe’s plea, as were oth­er party mem­bers frus­trated by their in­ab­il­ity to of­fer amend­ments.

“Sen. In­hofe well knows there are sol­diers in Afgh­anistan right now on their an­niversary,” he said, adding he didn’t ex­pect Re­pub­lic­ans to agree to vote soon­er than the late vote that was in­tii­ally sched­uled.

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