SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - On March 2, 2017, Mississippi's senior U.S. Senator, Republican Thad Cochran was recognized as the tenth longest-serving Senator in United States history.
With a long career comes a long list of accomplishments for Cochran, who announced his resignation from his seventh-term senate seat effective April 1, 2018.
After graduating from Ole Miss in 1959, Cochran was enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve through his law school years at the University of Mississippi. He taught military law and naval orientation at the Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island during the summer. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve.
Senator Cochran first became involved in a political campaign for a Republican candidate during the The Presidential campaign of 1968, when he served as Executive Director of Mississippi Citizens for Nixon-Agnew.
In 1972, Cochran was elected United States Congressman for the Fourth District, which included 12 counties in Southwest Mississippi. He was appointed to the House Public Works and Transportation Committee, which presided over economic development, transportation, and flood control. After winning re-election to the House in 1974, Cochran was elected by his colleagues to represent the Southern states on the House Republican Policy Committee. He was re-elected to the House of Representatives again in 1976.
In 1978, Cochran was elected to the United States Senate, becoming the first Republican in more than 100 years to win a statewide election in Mississippi.
In the current 115th Congress, Cochran was chosen to serve as chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and chairman of its Subcommittee on Defense. He was previously chairman of the Committee on Appropriations in the 114th Congress and the 109th Congress.
Senator Cochran is also a senior member on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, having most recently served as its ranking member in the 113th Congress. He has served on this panel since being sworn in as a Senator, and served previously as chairman in the 108th Congress.
Cochran has effectively used his seniority in the Senate and on the Senate Appropriations Committee to help Mississippi and the nation in the wake of disasters. In 2005, Cochran spearheaded the effort to provide more than $87 billion in supplemental federal assistance to Mississippi and Gulf Coast states devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
More recently, the Senator helped develop the "RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act" to help Gulf Coast states implement ecological and economic recovery activities following the tragic 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill.
During previous Congresses, Cochran served on the Senate Ethics Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Labor and Human Resources Committee, and the Committee on Indian Affairs. He also served on the Joint Committee on the Library, which oversees the activities of the Library of Congress. Service on these committees enabled him to be actively involved in the writing of laws affecting a wide range of issues including rural development, health care, and criminal justice.
Cochran has long operated on a conservative policy. He has supported measures to reduce spending, control debt and create an environment that fosters job creation and economic growth in Mississippi and the nation. He has also strongly supported measures to maintain a strong national defense.
For Mississippi, Cochran emphasized promoting economic development and educational opportunity. He has sponsored legislation and promoted policies related to rural economic development, including key provisions of several national farm policy bills. Cochran has also written legislation that supports education programs such as teacher training, vocational education, libraries, and educational television. He has supported programs to increase educational achievement among disadvantaged children, specifically in rural areas.
Cochran has helped to develop and maintain the National Park Service properties within the state, including the Vicksburg National Military Park and the Gulf Islands National Seashore. In addition, he authored provisions to preserve sites associated with the Civil Rights Movement.
Since Mississippi already has a statewide Congressional election set for November, the special election to fill Cochran's seat will be held at that time.
"My hope is by making this announcement now, a smooth transition can be ensured so their voice will continue to be heard in Washington, D.C.," Cochran said. "My efforts, and those of my staff, to assist them will continue and transfer to my successor."