Oklahoma Senator Coburn, battling cancer, to step down at year end

WASHINGTON Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:39am EST

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) addresses the Reuters Washington Summit in the Reuters newsroom in Washington, November 9, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) addresses the Reuters Washington Summit in the Reuters newsroom in Washington, November 9, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma said late Thursday he was battling cancer and would leave Congress at the end of this year.

Coburn, 65, said in a statement that the disease was not the reason he decided to resign. The senator is a three-time cancer survivor, according to his senatorial website's profile.

"This decision isn't about my health, my prognosis or even my hopes and desires," Coburn said. "I look forward to finishing this year strong."

His departure will leave two years left in his term but that is not seen likely to alter the political calculus of the Senate since Oklahoma is solidly Republican. The United States holds its next round of congressional elections this November.

Staunchly anti-abortion, Coburn has also fought hard to eliminate what he viewed as waste in government, according to his website's profile.

It says Coburn has offered "more amendments than any of his colleagues," including one opposing the so-called Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska, and another against funding for a museum commemorating the 1960s Woodstock music festival in New York state.

Coburn was one of several Republicans who sharply criticized efforts by the Republican conservative Tea Party movement to shut down the government last fall as a way to demand that the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, be de-funded.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called Coburn an "extraordinary man and a deeply serious lawmaker."

"Tom Coburn is without question one of the most intelligent, principled, and decent men in modern Senate history," the Kentucky lawmaker said in a statement.

A physician who says he has delivered 4,000 babies, Coburn was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994, and served three terms, according to the website's profile.

He left the House after his third term, but then ran for Senate in 2004, the profile said. He is a ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Lisa Shumaker, Ken Wills and W Simon)

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Comments (6)
njglea wrote:
Best of luck to Senator Coburn. Oklahoma may be solidly republican but over 50% of it’s citizens are women – just as in the rest of America and the the world. Good women of Oklahoma, and the men who love them, must elect representatives who support a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body.

Jan 17, 2014 8:52am EST  --  Report as abuse
COindependent wrote:
@nyglea Using your logic, the decision to have sex and getting pregnant are mutually exclusive. Last time I looked, there is only one way a woman can be impregnated. Are you saying that women are not smart enough to make the connection, and thus require some perceived “right” to destroy a human being? Nice….

Jan 17, 2014 10:14am EST  --  Report as abuse
I hope Sen. Coburn leads a long healthy life. But like many GOP members he has gone off the deep end since 2008, so good riddance from the Senate. The bad news is this is OK, so I am sure his replacement will be the same, if not worse.

Jan 17, 2014 11:53am EST  --  Report as abuse
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