When President Trump said repeatedly last month that a Republican senator was in the hospital, Sen. Thad Cochran's (R-Miss.) office had to repeatedly point out that he was at home recuperating from a urological issue, not in the hospital. In good news for Republicans, Cochran is back in Washington to vote for a budget resolution that will pave the way for a GOP-only tax reform bill. The bad news, as Politico recounts, is that Cochran, who turns 80 in December, "appeared frail and at times disoriented during a brief hallway interview on Wednesday."
Cochran told reporters that he did not plan to retire from the Senate, where he has served since 1979, but "when queried about whether he would stay on as Appropriations chairman, Cochran seemed confused and just repeated the question," Politico said. When another reporter asked if GOP leaders had pressured him to return to Washington for the vote, he smiled and said, "It's a beautiful day outside." After being guided through a security checkpoint, Cochran started to walk into the wrong room, until a staffer led him up to the Senate chamber on the second floor. And inside the chamber, he voted yes for an amendment, despite his staff telling him to vote no, eventually changing his vote.
Cochran is one of the longest-serving Republican lawmakers ever, but he isn't all that old by Senate standards — Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) served until he was 100, for example. And he doesn't face re-election until 2020, Politico notes, though "Republicans are desperate for him to stay in office and avoid a special election," presumably elevating a less-establishment-oriented Republican to his seat. Peter Weber