First elected to the Senate in 1978 after a stint in the House, Cochran is one of the longest-serving members of Congress in history. He is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, a powerful panel with jurisdiction over government spending. When he steps down, the chairmanship is expected to pass to Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), who is next in the line of seniority.
…Republicans hold a 51-to-49 advantage over Democrats, who are facing a tough map on which they are defending 10 seats in states President Trump won. But Trump’s unpopularity and controversies, combined with headwinds that any president’s party historically faces in a first midterm, have given Democrats hope of seizing back control of the upper chamber.
…Cochran’s resignation marks another step in the passing from a more genteel, bipartisan climate in the Senate, especially on the Appropriations Committee, to an era of partisan frenzy.
…“He’s the old school,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, who frequently traveled the globe with Cochran on congressional delegations. “He has always, always, always kept his word, and I wish to heck some other senators around here would learn to do that.”