Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) announced he would be resigning from Congress at the end of the current session, in January 2015. Coburn's term lasts through January 2017, so his resignation will trigger an election, but maybe not until after the mid-term elections this year. The Washington Post blog The Fix suggests he could tender his resignation early enough to allow Oklahoma to schedule an election concurrent to the November ones. Coburn insisted in a written statement the decision wasn't about his latest prostate cancer, and said in his video statement he would be coming back to Oklahoma to live under the laws passed while he was in office, including "many" he had hoped to stop but couldn't.
Coburn did not vote on yesterday's trillion-dollar spending bill, but did vote against the stop-gap measure. He voted against the October bill suspending the debt ceiling and ending a partial government shutdown, unlike 27 Republicans who voted for it and then for a resolution disapproving of the president's use of the new authority to suspend the debt ceiling. Coburn might be best known for his annual report on ridiculous earmarks, and a 2007 Reason profile of Tom Coburn starts with a review of the Senator's first earmark battle, over Ted Stevens' "bridge to nowhere." He lost that battle, but his observation about the coming "rumble" of anger from Americans about "out-of-control government spending" was certainly prescient, despite continuing losses. But as Reason noted in 2007, Coburn, a staunch social conservative, is no "libertarian hero," voting on the Patriot Act and other measures running counter to civil liberties, and has defended the NSA's efforts. The last Republican senator to resign was Jim DeMint, who once insisted you couldn't be a fiscal conservative without being a social conservative. He went on to take over the Heritage Foundation. Coburn, too, says he'll remain in public life.
Watch an extended interview Reason TV conducted with Tom Coburn in 2012 about how both parties helped bankrupt America: