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Reaction to Sen. Tom Coburn's decision to leave Congress early

by Chris Casteel Modified: January 17, 2014 at 12:45 pm •  Published: January 17, 2014
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Elected officials responded quickly to news that Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, would leave Congress with two years left of his term.

Gov. Mary Fallin

“Doctor Tom Coburn has represented the ‘Gold Standard’ for smart and tough fiscal conservatism since he began serving in the United States Congress in 1995. He is a true hero of the American Taxpayer and one of the most influential voices in American politics today.
“His consistent, relentless advocacy for responsible spending and deficit reduction has earned him respect from men and women on both sides of the aisle. Agree with him or not, there is never any doubt where Tom Coburn stands on the issues. He is as impressive a public servant as they come, and I am sure we have not heard the last from him. While I am sorry to see the Senate lose one of this country’s great statesmen, I am happy that Tom can now spend more time with his family and focus on other opportunities.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa
“I was honored to help recruit Tom in 1993 to run for the House of Representatives. I knew then that he was an intellectual and superb medical doctor. As we worked together, I came to learn he also had the skills that made him arguably the most sought after advisor in the Republican conference. In every policy decision, Tom has sought to be a faithful steward of the taxpayers’ money and a dedicated public servant to Oklahoma. He is a true brother in the Lord and my prayers are with him and his family in this time.”

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore

“For most of the past 20 years, Tom Coburn has been either my client or my colleague in Congress. I have watched with great pride and awe as he has repeatedly ‘spoke truth to power’ and fought for the views, values and interests of Oklahoma and all of America.
“No Oklahoman and few Americans have contributed more to our national dialogue over the course of the last two decades than Tom Coburn. A tireless leader and honest voice for Oklahoma, he is an unusual politician because he hates politics. But Tom loves our country and relishes the debate on the critical issues of our time.
“Whether in or out of office, he will remain a voice of courage and conviction that America and Oklahoma will rely upon for wisdom and truth. I know Tom will make his remaining time in office count, and his legacy will continue to inspire leaders—young and old.
“Tom, his wife Carolyn and his family are in my thoughts and prayers. I remain confident that he will once again overcome the challenges related to his health, and I wish my friend and his family the best in the days ahead.”

Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville
“Our sincere appreciation goes out to Dr. Coburn for his years of service and unwavering dedication to this country. A true public servant, he will be missed in our delegation and in Washington, D.C. It has been an honor to work alongside Dr. Coburn and I thank him for his service.”

Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City
“Dr. Tom Coburn has been the leading voice in Washington for fiscal responsibility since the first day he stepped onto the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. His retirement from the Senate will leave a huge void. Dr. Coburn has been a consistent and articulate voice for the American taxpayer and the next generation. No one was more effective fighting for responsible spending and against government waste in both the House and Senate.
“In the three years I have served in the House, I looked to Dr. Coburn as the epitome of a citizen legislator. He kept his eye on the ball and worked relentlessly to bring sanity to government fiscal policy. His leadership and wise counsel will be missed.
“I join Oklahomans across the state in thanking Dr. Coburn for his sacrificial years of public service, and I will pray that he and Carolyn enjoy many years together in the next chapter of their lives.”

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne

“Dr. Coburn has proven to be a dedicated servant to the people of the great state of Oklahoma. Throughout his tenure, he has worked tirelessly to provide ways to cut government waste, eliminate fraud and abuse of taxpayer’s dollars, and create economic certainty for all Americans. His commitment to solving our country’s fiscal crises serves as a true testament to his hard-working spirit. He has been an influential leader during his time in office, and I know he will accomplish more as he finishes out the 113th session. I respect his decision to retire from the Senate, and I wish him and his family only the best in their future.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona

“I am saddened to hear that my dear friend Tom Coburn has decided to retire at the end of this year. Where the character of the Senate is comprised of the vision and energy that each of its members bring to it, there can be no doubt that the Senate is a better place because of Tom’s service. There is, likewise, no doubt that I am a better person because of his friendship. I have long admired Tom for the strength of his convictions and the courage and candor with which he expresses them day after day – no matter the political consequences. Tom’s unshakable belief in the goodness of America and his dedication to securing a prosperous nation for future generations have long served as an inspiration to me, and they will continue to do so. Indeed, in my view, there has never been a greater defender of the American taxpayer than Tom Coburn. The people of Oklahoma and all Americans owe him a debt of gratitude for his service in the U.S. Congress. I deeply appreciate my friendship with Tom, which will continue long after he has left the Senate. While we will miss him dearly, I am confident that he will overcome the serious challenges that lie before him and will go on to serve yet again – in his own way, powerfully, effectively, and always mindful of the best interests of the nation that he loves so much.”

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky

“Today’s announcement is one that we all knew might come but that we all hoped wouldn’t. Fortunately, Tom has decided to stay with us throughout the year, so we will have the benefit of his wisdom and his counsel in the months ahead. But I know I speak for all my Senate colleagues when I say that we’ll need that long to get used to the idea of losing Tom Coburn’s singular voice in our conference. Tom is a legend in his own time, an extraordinarily man and a deeply serious lawmaker who has made an immense difference to his country and to this body. We will miss him terribly when he leaves the Senate, and we will stand with him every step of the way as he wages this latest of many tough battles that he has fought, and won.”

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt

“Dr. Coburn is an example of what is right in Washington when there are so many examples of what is wrong. His unrelenting dedication to uncovering wasteful spending has helped bring a renewed focus on the importance of the federal government living within its means. He is a genuine leader who is never afraid to tell you exactly where he stands. And unlike most in our nation’s capitol, Dr. Coburn is driven not by partisan politics or a desire to get re-elected, but rather by his commitment to secure a brighter future for the next generation of Americans. That kind of principled leadership is in short supply in Washington these days and will be sorely missed. My prayers are with him and his family as he moves forward with the next chapter of his life.”


by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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