We already know Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., doesn't exactly see eye to eye with Sen.-elect Edward J. Markey on energy and environment policy.
But Inhofe sought to lay the groundwork for a working relationship with Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who won a special election Tuesday to fill the seat vacated by the departure of John Kerry to be secretary of State. Markey will replace interim Sen. William "Mo" Cowan shortly after the July Fourth recess, according to a Democratic aide.
"I am looking forward to serving with … the senator who was just elected yesterday, and I think he'll find out something that I found out when I was first elected to the United States Senate after serving for several years in the House of Representatives, and that is: It is a more civil place. It's a place where we can have differences of opinion, where we disagree with each other, but we do so in a very friendly way," Inhofe said.
"I am actually looking forward to that because there have been times when our discourse, our discussions with each other was not friendly, but I think that it will turn out to be a total change," Inhofe added. "I just want to get on record and say that I'm looking forward to serving with our new, newly elected senator from Massachusetts, and I look forward to — to being with him although I think he has every … opportunity to change his mind on some of the positions he's taken in the past."
While Markey's record on environment and climate issues during his 36 years in the House are basically opposite of the positions taken by Inhofe over the years, the possibility that there could be a working relationship isn't as preposterous as one might expect.
When Inhofe and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., served concurrently as party leaders at the Environment and Public Works Committee, the two could not be further apart on environmental policy, but they often joined together on the infrastructure piece of the committee's agenda, including working with each other to enact a highway bill in the last Congress.
Inhofe's remarks on the Senate floor came just after Cowan's farewell speech.