Tom Coburn: Former Oklahoma senator and ‘Dr. No’ of Congress dies at 72



Coburn, a Republican dubbed “Dr. No” by his Democratic colleagues, was a staunch fiscal and social conservative who battled lawmakers over money for pet projects in their home states and fought for anti-abortion legislation throughout his career. He served in the US Senate from 2005-2015, after having been a member of the US House of Representatives from 1995-2001.

“Tom A Coburn, MD, beloved husband, father and grandfather, passed away peacefully at home this morning surrounded by his family,” his family said in a statement. “Because of his strong faith, he rested in the hope found in John chapter 11 verse 25 where Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, will live, even though they die.’ Today he lives in heaven.”

A memorial service for Coburn will be held at a later date and will be announced, the family said.

A deficit hawk, Coburn became known as one of Washington’s most fiscally conservative lawmakers and annually published a “Wastebook” of government spending. In 2011, he was part of the “Gang of Six,” a bipartisan group of US senators who worked on a proposal to cut US federal debt by $3.7 trillion over 10 years.

He was also tapped to serve as co-chair of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS during the Bush administration.

Coburn was diagnosed with cancer late in 2013 while still serving in the Senate. He announced in 2014 that he would be ending his six-year term early and retiring from Congress, having revealed that he was undergoing treatment for a recurrence of prostate cancer.

Vice President Mike Pence honored the veteran conservative in a tweet Saturday, saying, “Senator Coburn was a great conservative voice in the United States Congress and American physician whose legacy will live on. Karen and I send our deepest sympathies and prayers to his family during this tough time.”

Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford, who succeeded Coburn, remembered him as “a great friend” and said one of the things the former obstetrician will be known for is having delivered thousands of babies.

“Oklahoma has lost a tremendous leader, and I lost a great friend today. Dr. Coburn was an inspiration to many in our state and our nation. He was unwavering in his conservative values, but he had deep and meaningful friendships with people from all political and personal backgrounds. He was truly respected by people on both sides of the aisle,” Lankford said in a statement.

He continued: “Dr. Coburn will be remembered by many around the country for his work in Congress, but in Oklahoma, he will be remembered as a physician, a Sunday School teacher, and a mentor. He delivered over 4,000 babies and cared for thousands of moms in Muskogee.”

This story has been updated with additional information on Coburn’s career in Congress.

CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this story.



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