Rudman's former communications director Bob Stevens said the senator died Monday at George Washington University Hospital in Washington from complications from lymphoma, The Washington Post reported.
Rudman was first elected in 1980 and became known as the ethical conscience of the Senate. Senate colleagues told the Post Rudman's nickname was "Sledgehammer."
When he first went to Washington, Rudman could be counted on to support policies of fellow Republican, President Ronald Reagan. But the senator soon showed an independent streak not held in check by party loyalty.
Among his accomplishments were co-sponsorship of the milestone legislation known as the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act, sharp questioning of Reagan administration operatives involved in the Iran-contra "arms-for-hostages" deal and fellow senators in the so-called Keating Five savings-and-loan scandal and securing the nomination of fellow Granite Stater David H. Souter to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1990.
Alarmed by an annual deficit that had reached a then-record $200 billion in 1985 under Reagan, Rudman joined Republican Sens. Phil Gramm of Texas and Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina to pass the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act of 1985. The act called for a balanced federal budget within six years and was the first real effort by Congress in modern times to compel reductions in the federal deficit.
Rudman also was vice chairman of a joint House-Senate committee investigating the Reagan administration's covert operation to sell arms to Iran in exchange for U.S. hostages. Rudman called on Reagan to apologize to the American people for what he called "an act of folly."
"With the passing of Warren Rudman, the United States has lost a decorated war veteran and one of our country's great public servants," President Obama said in a statement. "As an early advocate for fiscal responsibility, he worked with Republicans and Democrats alike to call attention to our nation's growing deficit. And as we work together to address the fiscal challenges of our time, leaders on both sides of the aisle would be well served to follow Warren's example of common-sense bipartisanship."