Hot Air spoke to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) in an exclusive interview a few minutes ago just after he returned to Washington after more than a week at home in Oklahoma, with his first media response to the military action in Libya. Inhofe, the second-ranking member of the Armed Services Committee and also a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, says he was never consulted by the White House on the action, and after checking with both Democrats and Republicans on those committees, isn’t sure anyone was consulted. Inhofe accused Obama of reversing his stance on intervention in order to take credit for leadership of the coalition, and suggested that Obama waited until Congress was in recess to pull the trigger:
“I don’t think it’s good policy” to keep Congress out of the decision process on military intervention, Inhofe told me, noting that George W. Bush came to Congress first before beginning offensive military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. When I asked Inhofe whether Congress would have authorized the President’s move had Obama consulted Capitol Hill, Inhofe expressed some reservations. “You almost have to wonder if he did this intentionally,” Inhofe says about the timing of the decision, “because we were out of session in a recess.” Inhofe objects to the fact that he wasn’t consulted as a member of the two committees with oversight in this situation, but “even his own Democrat leadership was not consulted,” and says that Obama will have a hard time explaining that in his speech tonight.
Even apart from the timing, Inhofe has more questions than answers. “Are we going to be able to do it with just air power alone? We don’t know that,” Inhofe says. “Are we teaming up with the very people we’re fighting in Afghanistan — al-Qaeda?” Inhofe also questions whether Obama has thoroughly planned resources for the mission after a series of “downgrades” of the military. For instance, the mission uses C-17s, Inhofe says, a program that Obama has stopped, “one of the worst things he’s done.”
Inhofe then goes on to discuss environmental policy at length. He expects to get a floor vote on his amendment tomorrow, and claims to have three Democrats ready to support it: Joe Manchin, Mark Pryor, and Mary Landrieu. Inhofe also warns that Democrats are trying to dilute the pressure they face over the EPA’s efforts to conduct its end-around on Congressional authority on global warming. Inhofe says his bill will get a vote just as soon as Harry Reid is confident that it can be defeated.
What can people do to help Inhofe win the vote? Call your Senator today and tomorrow and tell him or her that the EPA’s efforts to regulate carbon dioxide will damage the economy and put too much power in the hands of bureaucrats.