President Obama called U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) a personal friend who was willing to work in a bipartisan manner to fight wasteful spending and cut down on earmarks.
In a statement released by the White House on Friday, Obama noted that he and Coburn were both elected to the Senate in 2004 and quickly became friends after their wives struck up a conversation. Obama said the people of Oklahoma have been "well-served by this 'country doctor from Muskogee' over the past nine years."
Obama said he's confident Coburn's "strength and optimism will carry him through the battles to come."
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) says he was honored to help recruit Coburn to run for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1993. Coburn served three terms in the House before winning the Senate seat in 2004.
Inhofe says Coburn is "an intellectual and superb medical doctor" who quickly became a highly sought-after adviser among Republicans.
Inhofe, who's running for re-election this year, also called Coburn a "faithful steward of the taxpayers' money and a dedicated public servant to Oklahoma."
Coburn is resigning nearly two years before his term was scheduled to end.
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK4) called Coburn "an unusual politician because he hates politics," and said Coburn had either been his collegue or his client (at the consulting firm of Cole, Hargrave, Snodgrass and Associates) for nearly two decades.
"Whether in or out of office, he will remain a voice of courage and conviction," Cole said in a statement. "I know Tom will make his remaining time in office count, and his legacy will continue to inspire leaders - young and old."
Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK3) said has been an influential leader who will accomplish even more before the 113th session of Congress wraps up early next year.
"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," Lucas said in an email. "His commitment to solving our country's fiscal crises serves as a true testament to his hard-working spirit."
Gov. Mary Fallin said Coburn's commitment to responsible spending and deficit reduction earned him praise from Congressional colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
"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," Fallin said in a statement. "He is as impressive a public servant as they come, and I am sure we have not heard the last from him."
Republican House Speaker T.W. Shannon said in a statement Coburn brought rare intellect, principle, toughness, and courage to the U.S. Senate.
"He stood up to the status quo and never flinched," Shannon said.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt said Coburn is a rare example of what's right in Washington.
"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," Pruitt said in a statement. "That kind of principled leadership is in short supply in Washington these days and will be sorely missed."
Coburn announced late Thursday that he was stepping down from his seat with two years remaining on his term amid a battle against a recurrence of prostate cancer.