Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Senators slam Pentagon officials Generals contradict Biden, say they advised leaving troops in Afghanistan LIVE COVERAGE: Senators press military leaders on Afghanistan MORE (R-Okla.) has officially been tapped to succeed Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainVirginia race looms as dark cloud over Biden's agenda Sinema's no Manchin, no McCain and no maverick Progressives say go big and make life hard for GOP MORE (R-Ariz.) as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHoyer signals House vote on bill to 'remove' debt limit threat Biden signs bill to raise debt ceiling On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan MORE (R-Ky.) announced Wednesday.
“I’m happy that our colleagues on the Armed Services Committee have officially chosen Sen. Inhofe to serve as their next chairman,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “Jim Inhofe filled in for Sen. McCain during a difficult year. He rose to the occasion and helped lead the committee in passing crucial legislation that honored the example of his predecessor and the volunteers who defend our nation.”
McConnell added that Inhofe has “rich experience” on the committee and in the military service.
Inhofe served in the Army for two years in the 1950s. He was the Senate Armed Services Committee’s ranking member from 2013 to 2015.
Inhofe has led the Senate Armed Services Committee as acting chairman since late last year when McCain returned to Arizona to receive treatment for brain cancer. McCain died from the cancer late last month and was buried at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis on Sunday after a week of memorial services in Arizona and D.C.
As chairman, Inhofe will play a leading role in overseeing U.S. defense policy, including as one of the key crafters of the annual defense policy legislation that does everything from specifying how many fighter jets the military can buy to banning military-to-military relations with Russia.
Asked Wednesday what his priorities will be for the committee, Inhofe said he plans to delegate power to the subcommittee chairmen.
"This is something I've been wanting to do for a long period of time," he said. "We have so much talent there. ... So we're going to do a lot these things in the subcommittees that we have been doing in the whole committee before."
He also said the committee will work to ensure the military is "getting the most" out of its rebuilding efforts, for which it received a massive budget hike.
"America is facing new and unprecedented threats that are different from anything we’ve seen before," Inhofe added in a written statement later Wednesday. "As chairman, it will be my priority to address these threats while maintaining a staunch commitment to service members and their families, as well as continue the bipartisan tradition of rigorous accountability and oversight of the Defense Department.
Inhofe is also a proud supporter of President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE and so is expected to hew closely to Trump’s agenda. That will put him in contrast with his predecessor McCain, who sparred with Trump frequently on defense and national security issues.
Inhofe also said Wednesday he expects Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.), who was appointed to take McCain's seat in the Senate, will fill the Armed Services Committee seat left open after McCain's death.
Updated at 2:28 p.m.