Former Sen. Inhofe, Known for Snowball Stunt, Dies at 89

Oklahoma lawmaker brought the snowball to Senate floor to mock environmental worries
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 9, 2024 11:17 AM CDT
Former GOP Senator Jim Inhofe Dies at 89
Former Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., speaks on Capitol Hill in 2015.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Former Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, a conservative firebrand known for his strong support of defense spending and his denial that human activity is responsible for the bulk of climate change, has died at age 89. Inhofe, a powerful fixture in Oklahoma politics for over six decades, died Tuesday morning after a stroke suffered over the July Fourth holiday, per the AP and Politico. Inhofe, who had been elected to a fifth Senate term in 2020, stepped down in early 2023.

  • Snowball stunt: Inhofe frequently criticized the mainstream science that human activity contributed to changes in the Earth's climate, once calling it "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." In February 2015, with temperatures in the nation's capital below freezing, Inhofe brought a snowball onto the Senate floor and mocked environmentalists for worrying about global warming. "It's very, very cold out. Very unseasonable," he said.
  • Environment: The New York Times calls him "arguably Washington's most prominent denier of the established science of human-generated climate change." Politico notes that as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, he "held vast sway over environmental policy."

  • Trump ally: He was a strong backer of former President Trump, who praised him for his "incredible support of our #MAGA agenda" while endorsing the senator's 2020 reelection bid. During the Trump administration, Inhofe served as chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee following the death of Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
  • Certified Biden: In 2021, Inhofe defied some in his party by voting to certify Democrat Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election, saying that to do otherwise would be a violation of his oath of office to support and defend the Constitution. He voted against convicting Trump at both of his impeachment trials.
  • Defense spending: As Oklahoma's senior senator, Inhofe was a staunch supporter of the state's five military installations and a vocal fan of congressional earmarks. The Army veteran and licensed pilot, who would fly himself to and from Washington, secured the federal money to fund local road and bridge projects, and criticized House Republicans who wanted a one-year moratorium on such pet projects in 2010.
(More James Inhofe stories.)

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