Birthdate: March 18, 1931
Birth Place: Greensboro, NC, United States
Residence: Greensboro, NC
First Elected: 1984
State: North Carolina
District: District 6
Howard Coble was born in Greensboro, N.C., where he still resides. He attended Appalachian State University from 1949 to 1950, and earned a bachelor's degree in history from Guilford College in 1958. He earned a law degree in 1962 from the University of North Carolina.
Coble served in the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve from 1952 to 1981. He was an assistant U.S. attorney for North Carolina from 1969 to 1973, state revenue secretary from 1973 to 1977, and served in the state House from 1979 to 1983.
He was elected to the U.S. House in 1984, and in July 2008 became the longest-serving House Republican in North Carolina history.
Coble was hospitalized with a respiratory illness in 2011 and underwent back surgery to correct a spinal ailment in 2012.
He is single.
Howard Coble has long been considered a dependable conservative, yet he drew four Republican challengers in the 2010 primary.
He dispatched them easily in that year's primary, drawing on his familiarity with voters and his large campaign bank account to overcome complaints he hadn't been vocal enough opposing Democratic spending and for backing the 2008 financial industry bailout.
Coble was first elected to Congress during President Ronald Reagan's administration and is the longest-serving House Republican in North Carolina history.
In a June 2012 press release, he criticized the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the 2010 health care reform law, vowing to work to repeal the measure.
"This verdict is a victory for those who advocate in favor of big government. The high court has now ruled in favor of the largest tax on young people in our nation's history," he said in the statement.
Coble was the only member of the North Carolina delegation and one of 34 representatives overall to vote against a $168 billion economic stimulus plan in February 2008. He argued the package, which provided tax rebate checks to more than 130 million households, was only applying a bandage to a serious problem that required a stronger remedy.
He joined fellow Republicans in 2009 in opposing the approximately $800 billion economic stimulus package.
Coble was a close ally of former President George W. Bush, but he became one of the first Republicans in Congress to suggest publicly that the U.S. should withdraw troops from Iraq. He said in 2005 that he was "fed up with picking up the newspaper and reading that we've lost another five or 10 of our young men and women in Iraq."
He said he voted to give Bush sweeping war-making powers on Iraq assuming the administration had a post-invasion strategy. A troop withdrawal was an option if the Iraqi government was unable or unwilling to do more to provide for its own security, Coble said.
Coble's district is historically dominated by textile and furniture manufacturers, and he has supported government efforts to protect U.S. products from foreign competition.
He voted in July 2005 against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which narrowly passed the House, because he said it threatened to further encourage textile companies to send jobs abroad.
Coble is one of a handful of lawmakers who have refused to take a congressional pension, saying the system is a "taxpayer rip off."
Though his quarter century in Congress would have earned him more than $2 million over his lifetime had he enrolled in the plan, Coble has twice sponsored unsuccessful bills to repeal or downsize congressional pensions.
"I'm not condemning my colleagues up there," Coble said. "What they're doing is lawful. But I think it's obviously a sweetheart deal."
Coble stirred the ire of Japanese-Americans when he said on a 2003 radio show that the World War II internment of citizens of Japanese descent was for their own protection. He resisted calls for his resignation and said he regretted that his comments caused offense.
Source: Associated Press