Former Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, a doctor-turned-lawmaker who annoyed Republican leadership in both chambers of Congress with his adherence to fiscal conservatism and opposition to politicians’ pet spending projects, has died at 72.
Coburn’s death was announced on Twitter by former Republican Rep. Zach Wamp of Tennessee, a House colleague in the class of 1994, whose rise to power on promises to slash federal spending and enact socially conservative policies ended Democrats’ 40-year majority in the chamber. Coburn died Friday due to complications with cancer, according to the Oklahoman .
Coburn stood out in the House during his 1995-2001 tenure for his adherence to fiscal conservatism even while the Republican majority in which he served, led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, passed a series of big-spending budget bills. Coburn, in a 2005 C-SPAN interview, said his greatest regret in government was a House vote to reopen the federal government in early 1996 as part of a budget agreement with Democratic President Bill Clinton.
Like many Republican congressional candidates in 1994, Coburn ran on a term-limits pledge. But he actually meant it, stepping down after six years to return to the practice of medicine as an obstetrician.