Warren Rudman, giant of budget debates in Congress, dies at 82

Former Sen. Warren Rudman (R-N.H.), a prominent budget hawk during his career in Congress, has died at the age of 82.

Rudman, who served as New Hampshire attorney general before winning election to the Senate, was best known for co-authoring the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act of 1985.

ADVERTISEMENT
The legislation, which implemented deficit-reduction targets and set up automatic spending cuts split evenly between domestic discretionary spending and defense, served as a template for future legislation, including the 2011 Budget Control Act.

“It was the first use of the Budget Act in an aggressive way to discipline spending,” said former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who took Rudman’s seat in 1993.

The sequestration set up by Gramm-Rudman-Hollings never took effect, but “it was very much a discipliner of spending for many years,” Gregg said. 

“He was an impact player of national importance. He brought New Hampshire common sense and frugality to Washington,” Gregg said. 


Rudman continued to play a leading role in the deficit debate after retiring from Congress. He co-founded with former Sen. Paul Tsongas (D-Mass.) the Concord Coalition, a nationwide grassroots group advocating for fiscal responsibility.

Rudman was also known in the Senate for his expertise on military issues, serving on the Defense Appropriations subcommittee. 

In 1986 and 1987, he served as the vice chairman of the Senate select committee set up to investigate covert arms sales to Iran to fund rebel fighters in Nicaragua.

He also served on the Ethics Committee during the investigation of the Keating Five. After nearly a month of televised hearings, the Ethics panel urged censure of former Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) and criticized four other lawmakers, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).