Tom Coburn

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Tom Coburn currently serves as the Jr. Senator for Oklahoma

Thomas Allen Coburn, M.D., a Republican, has been the Junior Senator from the state of Oklahoma since 2005. (map)

Record and controversies

General information about important bills and votes for can be found in Congresspedia's articles on legislation. You can add information you find on how Tom Coburn voted by clicking the "[edit]" link to the right and typing it in. Remember to cite your sources!

Iraq War

For more information see the chart of U.S. Senate votes on the Iraq War.

Environmental record

For more information on environmental legislation, see the Energy and Environment Policy Portal

Firearms in National Parks

Tucked away in the "Miscellaneous Provision" section at the end of the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2009 H.R.627 is a provision allowing people to carry loaded firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges.

The amendment was introduced by Sen. Coburn, who said that concerns about increased violence were overblown: "I don't expect anything major to come from this other than to restore the Second Amendment rights taken away by bureaucrats." [1]

As of February 22, 2010, guns will be allowed in all but about 20 of the park service's 392 locations, including: Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite National Park. [2]

The Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2009, along with Sen. Coburn's "Protecting Americans from Violent Crimes" amendment passed by votes of 279-147 in the House and 90-5 in the Senate.

Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act

On April 6, 2006, Sens. Coburn, Barack Obama (D-Ill.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Tom Carper (D-Del.) introduced the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (S.2590). The bill would require the Office of Management and Budget to create a searchable online database of all governments contracts and has been hailed as a "Google" for federal spending. The bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush on September 26, 2006, and created the website

The bill was stalled for over a month due to anonymous holds placed by Sens. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.). [3] Eventually, both senators dropped their holds, allowing the bill to pass by a voice vote on September 7, 2006. [4] It passed the House by voice vote on September 13, 2006. [5]

Main article: Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act


In 2000, Coburn sponsored an ultimately failed bill to prevent the Food and Drug Administration from developing, testing or approving RU-486. [6] Coburn also objects to legal abortion in cases of rape, and he has justified his position by noting that his great-grandmother was raped by a sheriff. [7] In the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings concerning Samuel Alito, before the Senate, Senator Coburn mentioned that his grandmother was a product of that rape.

Breast implants

In January 2005, during a Senate Judiciary Committee discussion about class-action lawsuits and silicone breast implants, The Washington Post quoted Coburn as stating:

"You know, I immediately thought about silicone breast implants and the legal wrangling and the class-action suits off that. And I thought I would just share with you what science says today about silicone breast implants. If you have them, you're healthier than if you don't. That is what the ultimate science shows...In fact, there's no science that shows that silicone breast implants are detrimental and, in fact, they make you healthier." [8]

Coburn may have been referring to the conclusions of a December 2004 study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research[9]. The study showed that the sample group had a slightly lower than expected incidence of breast cancer over the period of the study in women who have had a mastectomy following early-stage breast cancer.

Global warming

During his run for the U. S. Senate, Coburn was quoted as saying that there was, " hard evidence to support global warming." Coburn called global warming "just a lot of crap." [10]


According to The American Prospect during Coburn's 2004 senatorial campaign in Oklahoma, Coburn remarked that in the town of Coalgate, Oklahoma, lesbianism was "so rampant in some of the schools...that they'll let only one girl go to the bathroom." [11] School officials have denied his statement. [12] Coburn has also been quoted as saying:

"The gay community has infiltrated the very centers of power in every area across this country, and they wield extreme power... That agenda is the greatest threat to our freedom that we face today. Why do you think we see the rationalization for abortion and multiple sexual partners? That's a gay agenda." [13]

Schindler's List

As a congressman in 1997, Coburn protested NBC's airing of the R-rated Academy Award-winning Holocaust drama Schindler's List. Coburn said in airing the movie NBC had taken television "to an all-time low, with full-frontal nudity, violence and profanity." He also said the broadcast should outrage parents and decent-minded individuals everywhere. Coburn described the airing of Schindler's List as "...irresponsible sexual behavior...I cringe when I realize that there were children all across this nation watching this program."

Many people disagreed with this statement, including a number of fellow Republican Congressmen who criticized Coburn in their speeches. Coburn later apologized "to all those I have offended" and clarified that he agreed with the movie being aired, but insisted it should have been on later in the evening. In apologizing, Coburn said that at that time of the evening there are still large numbers of children watching without parental supervision and he stood by his message of protecting children from violence, but expressed it poorly. He also said, "my intentions were good, but I've obviously made an error in judgment in how I've gone about saying what I wanted to say."

He later wrote in his book Breach of Trust that he considered this one of the biggest mistakes in his life and that, while he still feels the material was unsuitable for television, he handled the situation poorly.

Sterilization Controversy

A woman alleged that Coburn, an ob-gyn, sterilized her without her consent during an emergency surgery to treat a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy in 1990. Coburn contends that he had her oral consent, but he did not obtain written consent. A resulting civil malpractice suit was ultimately dismissed with no finding of liability on Coburn's part.[14]

The Roberts confirmation hearings

On September 14, 2005, during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, Coburn stopped working on a crossword puzzle and began speaking about partisan politics while, according to news reports, "choking back a sob". [15] Coburn then began his questioning by revealing his confusion regarding the various legal terms bandied about during the previous day's hearings. Proceeding to questions regarding both abortion and end-of-life issues, Coburn, who noted that during his tenure as a general practitioner he had delivered some 4,000 babies, asked Roberts whether the judge agreed with the proposition that "the opposite of being dead is being alive."

You know I'm going somewhere. One of the problems I have is coming up with just the common sense and logic that if brain wave and heartbeat signifies life, the absence of them signifies death, then the presence of them certainly signifies life.

And to say it otherwise, logically is schizophrenic. And that's how I view a lot of the decisions that have come from the Supreme Court on the issue of abortion.[16]

"Clay pigeon" amendment

On May 5, 2006, Coburn offered a rare "clay pigeon" amendment to an emergency supplemental bill. This amendment, divided into 19 sections, was intended to strip non-emergency projects from the bill. On this date, an amendment to block a $700 million economic development project in Mississippi failed by a vote of 47–50. An amendment to block a $500 million corporate welfare benefit package for Northrop Grumman, a major defense contractor, failed by a vote of 48–51. A Coburn amendment to remove $15 million for seafood promotion strategies, however, was accepted by a Senate vote of 51–44. [17]

Investigation into earmarked funds to colleges and universities

In August 2006, Coburn began to investigate federal funds earmarked to colleges and universities since 2000. He mailed a letter to schools asking detailed questions about the specific funds directed to them, and requested that he receive a response by September 1, 2006. On September 12, Coburn’s spokesman, John Hart, announced that the senator would be releasing both the response letters he received as well as a statement to the public. [18]

Federal budget

FY2007 continuing resolution

In early 2007, Sen. Coburn, the Senate's sole physician, strongly criticized the House-passed continuing resolution for FY2007 for failing to fund a $30 million program he authored to test newborns for the AIDS virus. A spokesman for Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) said the funds were not appropriated because no states had yet met the criteria to be eligible to receive them.

Main article: Continuing resolution of 2007

FY2007 Legislative Branch appropriations bill

According to CongressDailyAm, a publication of the National Journal, Sen. Coburn is preventing the 2007 Legislative Brach appropriations bill because it increases Senate spending by 8 percent. In defense of his actions he states that "In a time of war, rising gas prices and record deficits, increasing our own budget by an exorbitant amount sends the wrong message to the public".[19]

Objection to disaster-loan legislation

On July 17, 2007, Sen. Coburn objected unanimous passage of bipartisan disaster-loan legislation, which has also received endorsement by the President. Coburn cited concerns over the bill's financial safeguards, which encourage "banks to make risky loans by offering a government guarantee of 85 percent for defaults," lack fiscal offsets, and include a provision that would assess the government’s ability to offer economic-injury loans to companies “adversely affected by a lack of snowfall.”[1]

Objection to widely accepted gun bill

On October 3, 2007, Sen. Coburn blocked a new firearms law, born from issues concerning the Virginia Tech shootings. Coburn said that the bill, which is designed to improve the federal system for checking gun buyers' mental health history in order to block purchases by those diagnosed as mentally ill, would create "a pathway by which individuals can lose their Second Amendment rights but no pathway through which they can gain them back if they're stable." Another reason for placing a hold on the bill is because he believed that the cost was too high, estimating that it will run to $2 billion over the next several years. Although Coburn is known to place holds on many popular bills, he is supported by the Gun Owners of America and the American Legion, who are worried that the bill could unintentionally deny gun rights to wartime veterans.[2]



Coburn was born March 14, 1948 in Casper, Wyoming to German-American parents, and graduated with a B.S. in accounting from Oklahoma State University. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma Medical School in 1983. He made his living as a physician, and served as a deacon in the Southern Baptist Church, until 1994 when he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in Oklahoma's heavily Democratic 2nd District. Coburn faced Virgil Cooper. Coburn won by a 52%–48% margin, becoming the first Republican to represent the district since 1921.

As a Congressman, Coburn opposed abortion and the proposed V-chip. He kept his pledge to serve only three terms and left the House in 2001. While in the House, he earned a reputation as a maverick due to his constant battles with House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Most of these stand-offs stemmed from his belief that the Republican caucus was straying from the "Contract With America" that had swept them into power in 1994. Specifically, Coburn was upset that term limits had not been implemented and that Republicans were continuing the pork barrel politics they had opposed under Democratic rule.

In 1997, Coburn introduced an amendment (H.R. 1026) to the Social Security Act called the HIV Prevention Act of 1997. The amendment proposed a number of situations where HIV tests would be mandated or available on request and that all results of HIV tests be made available to state officials.

Coburn wrote Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders in 2003. The book details his perspective on the intraparty debates over the Contract With America and displays his disdain for career politicians. Some of the figures he criticized (such as Gingrich) were already out of office at the time of publishing, but others (such as Dennis Hastert) remained very influential in Congress, which resulted in speculation that some Congressional Republicans wanted no part of Coburn's return to politics.

Senate Career

Nonetheless, in 2004, Coburn was asked by several Republicans to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Don Nickles. During the campaign, he said that he favored the death penalty for abortionists [20] and said that homosexuality was the biggest threat to America. Coburn won by large margins in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and the rural western counties.

In October 2005, Coburn introduced a number of bills targeting pork barrel spending in the federal budget. The best-known of these bills is the Amendment to the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development appropriations bill (HR 3058).[21] This bill would have transferred funding from the infamous Alaskan Bridge to Nowhere to the rebuilding of the "Twin Spans" bridge in Louisiana. The amendment was defeated 15-82.


On June 13, 2007, Sen. Coburn underwent surgery to remove a benign tumor. No complications were encountered and he was expected to return to his duties before the end of the month.[3]

Money in politics

This section contains links to – and feeds from – money in politics databases. <crpcontribdata>cid=N00005601&cycle=2006</crpcontribdata>

Links to more campaign contribution information for Tom Coburn
from the Center for Responsive Politics' site.
Fundraising profile: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2006 election cycle Career totals

Committees and Coalitions


Committee assignments in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

Coalitions and Caucuses

  • Co-Chair, President's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, 2001-present
  • National Republican Congressional Committee
  • Policy Committee
  • Member, Fiscal Watch Team, a group of seven senators led by John McCain to combat wasteful government spending.[22]

Boards and other Affiliations

More Background Data

Wikipedia also has an article on Tom Coburn. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.


DC Office:
172 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3603
Phone: 202-224-5754
Fax: 202-224-6008
Web Email

District Office- Lawton:
711 Southwest D Avenue, Suite 202
Lawton, OK 73501
Phone: 580-357-9878
Fax: 580-355-3560

District Office- Oklahoma City:
2250 West Modelle Street, Suite C
Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Phone: 405-231-4941
Fax: 405-231-5051

District Office- Tulsa:
3310 Mid-Continent Tower
401 South Boston
Tulsa, OK 74103
Phone: 918-581-7651
Fax: 918-581-7195


Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Elana Schor, "Sen. Coburn objects to bipartisan disaster-loan legislation," The Hill, July 18, 2007.
  2. Elizabeth Williamson, "Oklahoma Senator Blocks Widely Accepted Gun Bill," The Washington Post, October 3, 2007.
  3. Kevin Bogardus, "Coburn undergoes surgery," The Hill, June 13, 2007.

External Resources

Local blogs and discussion sites

External Articles

Corresponding article on Wikipedia and Cause Caller. (If Cause Caller link does not work, pick from its list of senators and representatives.)

Current Office: U.S. Senate
111th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

110th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

Co-Chair - President's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, 2001-present, National Republican Congressional Committee, Policy Committee, Fiscal Watch Team
Committees: Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs/Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management Government Information Federal Services and International Security, Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs/Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs/Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia, Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions, Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions/Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Senate Committee on the Judiciary/Subcommittee on Antitrust Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, Senate Committee on the Judiciary/Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, Senate Committee on the Judiciary/Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, Senate Committee on the Judiciary/Subcommittee on Technology Terrorism and Homeland Security
Congressional Career
First Elected to Current Office:
November 2, 2004
First Took Current Office:
January 3, 2005
Next Election:
November 2, 2010
Term Ends:
Freshman Member?
Previous Political Work?
U.S. House of Representatives
Other Party Membership:
District Offices:
1. 711 Southwest D Avenue, Suite 202, Lawton, OK 73501
Phone: 580-357-9878 / Fax: 580-355-3560
2. 2250 West Modelle Street, Suite C, Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Phone: 405-231-4941 / Fax: 405-231-5051
3. 3310 Mid-Continent Tower, 401 South Boston, Tulsa, OK 74103
Phone: 918-581-7651 / Fax: 918-581-7195

Campaign Contact:

Webform Email: / Email:

Campaign Offices:

Phone: / Fax:

Zip Code Affiliations:

Date of Birth: March 14, 1948