WASHINGTON, DC — Senator James Lankford (R-OK) Thursday honored the life and legacy of former Oklahoma Senator, Dr. Tom Coburn.
Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, a family doctor out of Muskogee, Oklahoma who earned a reputation as a conservative political maverick, passed away on March 28 due to complications with cancer. He was 72, say the Associated Press.
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During his speech on the Senate floor, Senator Lankford called Dr. Coburn a "patriot" and praised the former senator's accomplishments in Congress. Lankford also discussed the important advice Dr. Coburn gave him when Lankford began his service in the House of Representatives.
I remember asking him privately before I started serving in the House of Representatives how he made a difference. His answer was there are two people that make a difference in Congress: the person who studies and the Committee Chairman. Study more than anyone else. Know the issue, and you can get it done.
Born on March 14, 1948, in Casper, Wyoming, Tom Coburn grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma, say the AP. After graduating from Oklahoma State University, from 1970 to 1978, Coburn worked for his family's business in Virgina, Ophthalmic Division of Coburn Opticals. Later, he attended the University of Oklahoma's medical school.
Coburn was said to have delivered more than 4,000 babies while an obstetrician in Muskogee, where he treated patients for free while in the Senate, his cousin Bob Coburn told The Associated Press.
Coburn said his decision to jump into politics was based on a runaway government spending and his distaste for career politicians. At this time, he was married to his wife, Carolyn, with three children and had established a successful medical practice, says the AP.
Coburn experienced many health scares during his time in office, says the Associated Press. In 1975, he was treated for malignant melanoma. Then, in 2011, Coburn had surgery for prostate cancer.
Health woes didn't damper Tom Coburns attitude,the AP says. For example, after he reveled in 2003 that he underwent surgery after receiving a colon cancer diagnosis, he told a Tulsa World reporter: " You should be writing about Medicaid and Medicare instead of my health.”
Senator James Lankford continued by saying, "I thought the best way to honor Dr. Coburn today, though, was to remind this body of what Dr. Coburn said as he walked out of this body, his farewell speech. Among the many things he said, he challenged the Senate and senators by saying this: ‘The Senate was designed uniquely to force compromise, not to force gridlock, to force compromise. One senator had the power to stop everything for the first 100 years, but it didn't because compromise was the goal. Our founders understood there were many differences between the states in size, in geography, economy, and opinions. They united the states as one country based upon the premise that many are more powerful than the one. As senators, we have to follow this example."
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