While many people have differing ideas of what the tea party is, Sen. Tom Coburn describes it as made up of people from all political parties who share an interest in liberty and limited government.
"They're not Republicans. They're not Independents. They're not just Democrats. They're all sorts of people who would like to see a better functioning limited government that enhances our freedom and improves the efficiency of the government," the Oklahoma Republican told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Thursday.
He said he thought the tea party had succeeded in "making changes" to discussions about the role of government.
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As for the House select committee investigation
into the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Coburn said the incident still has "a lot of unanswered questions."
He suggested the investigation could yield important information about how the government manages its facilities in other countries.
"To me, it's really important that the questions are answered, so we can direct how we handle embassies, and especially at-risk sites in the future," he said.
The probe into the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs
involving secret wait lists and delayed care should yield answers so that the government can provide "the best care, not the last care" for combat veterans, Coburn said.
He said he would "reserve my judgment" on whether VA Secretary Eric Shinseki should step down.
Coburn said that he, along with fellow Republicans Arizona Sen. John McCain and North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, plans to introduce a bill to enable veterans to "choose what kind of care they get, rather than have it handed out to them and wait for long periods of time."
He said if veterans are able to "choose where they want to go to get the best care they can," a lot of the agency's problems would be solved, because VA facilities would have to "compete for that choice by giving service and quality outcomes."
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