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Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, in line to become the ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee in January, says he wants to continue the bipartisan spirit of the panel but he also plans to fight against defense cuts.
Inhofe's elevation to top Republican on the Democratic-controlled committee is the result of party rules imposed by Republicans that require Sen. John McCain of Arizona to step down from the top post.
An Army veteran and former mayor of Tulsa, Inhofe is a fiscal and social conservative who has not been afraid to use parliamentary delaying tactics to block legislation in the Senate, where it can be difficult to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.
In a statement, Inhofe says he is "looking forward to stepping in" as ranking Republican if his fellow Republicans on the committee vote to give him the post. A formal vote may not happen until early next year, but there has been no mention of anyone opposing him for the job.
"The committee has a long history of bipartisanship in providing the resources our nation's military needs, and I will work with Chairman Levin to continue working for the betterment of our national defense," he said, referring to Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the committee chairman since 2007.
Levin, who also was committee chairman from 2001 to 2003, does not face limits on his chairmanship because Senate Democrats do not have the same rules as Republicans.
Bipartisanship doesn't mean automatic agreement, Inhofe emphasized. "I am deeply concerned about planned defense cuts and pending defense cuts through sequestration," he said.
Inhofe said he would focus, as has McCain, on acquisition reform, but said he also wants to work on readiness-related matters, such as "preventing the potential hollowing out of our forces."
"After more than a decade of war, our personnel and equipment needs will be wide-ranging, and I am ready to address these very important issues," he said."