By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, visited Oklahoma this week in conjunction with a trip to Tinker Air Force Base in an attempt to protect the military installation. He wanted to connect with a national commission charged with examining cost efficiency at several military bases nationwide. This week, Tinker was the site under investigation.
“We have a hollow (military) force,” Inhofe said during a visit to Transcript offices on Tuesday.
Inhofe attended the commission’s public hearing at the Reed Center in Midwest City following the tour of Tinker. Inhofe said he wants the Senate Arms Service Committee to hear the report.
“It’s a good group to come in and tell the truth,” he said.
The 78-year-old senator recently announced that he will seek re-election. He has served in the senate since 1994 and is the senior U.S. senator from Oklahoma.
“I want to have a Republican majority in the Senate,” he said of the coming elections.
Inhofe dubbed himself as one of the “Dirty Dozen in the Senate” who is willing to hold up the budget to protest the Affordable Care Act.
“Sometimes you have to do something desperate,” he said.
Inhofe carried the bill in the Senate to allow augmentation of Lake Thunderbird by outside water sources. The House version of the bill was authored by Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore.
An avid pilot, Inhofe worked to keep contractual flight control towers — including the one at Norman’s Westheimer Airport — open. He supports maintaining a strong national defense and transportation infrastructure.
“That’s what the Constitution says we should do,” he said.
Inhofe wants to rebuild the military, end the war against fossil fuels and scrutinize the “real cost of regulations.”
“We can be totally independent right now,” Inhofe said of America’s oil supply.
An outspoken critic of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Sierra Club and other groups who oppose drilling in federally protected lands, Inhofe proposes opening up federal lands. He said experts say they can have a barrel of oil to market within 10 weeks — 70 days.
He has supported the Keystone Pipeline and is a critic of what he calls the administration’s “climate change agenda.”
The senator said emissions will be increased worldwide if America’s strict regulations drive the market to seek places without any regulations.
To reduce the deficit, he would cut “bloated bureaucracies” he said, naming the Food Stamp program as a place where government could reduce spending. He criticized the current U.S. administration for the fact that Food Stamps have doubled in recent years.
While Inhofe opposes eavesdropping on innocent citizens, he said he supports intelligence gathering for the purpose of national security, saying it’s important to keep the ability to get information from terrorists.