In a stunning announcement, one of the Senate’s leading members is resigning, citing health issues.
This afternoon, Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi announced he is resigning effective April 1, due to unspecified health issues. Cochran is the third most-senior Senator and second most-senior Republican member. He was first elected to the Senate in 1978, and is currently the Chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, which he had also chaired from 2005–07.
He also chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee (2003–05). Cochran won reelection to a seventh term in 2014, after defeating Chris McDaniel in an intense primary run-off election. He is currently the dean of the Mississippi congressional delegation and the longest current-serving member of Congress.
Republican U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, said on Monday he will resign on April 1.
“I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge. I intend to fulfill my responsibilities and commitments to the people of Mississippi and the Senate through the completion of the 2018 appropriations cycle, after which I will formally retire from the U.S. Senate,” Cochran, 80, said in a statement.
Mississippi’s Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is expected to name a temporary replacement, who would serve until a special election can be held.
Cochran has been frequently absent this year from the Senate because of poor health. He was first elected to the Senate in 1978, becoming the first Republican in more than 100 years to win a statewide election in Mississippi. He had previously served three terms in the House of Representatives.
Cochran is the tenth-longest serving Senator in U.S. history, his office said.