Concerns that Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-MS) health problems are greater than his office previously indicated were confirmed by Politico‘s Seung Min Kim on Monday morning.
NEWS: @SenThadCochran is not returning to D.C. this week as planned due to new urinary tract infection. Denies GOP a reliable vote on budget
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) October 16, 2017
Cochran’s continued absences from Washington, DC, along with the constantly shifting explanations from his office as to when he might return, have raised red flags on both sides of the aisle.
The failure of Cochran to show up for his Senate duties is “denying Senate Republicans a reliable vote as they take up a must-pass budget later this week,” Politico reported on Monday, noting that his office issued yet another statement on his health earlier in the day:
“He will continue his recuperation at home in Mississippi,” Cochran’s chief of staff, Brad White, said in a statement. “The senator has expressed his intention to return to the Senate when his health permits, and to fulfill his commitment and duties to the people of his state.”
The statement did not indicate when Cochran would return to Washington, and a Cochran spokesman did not immediately respond to questions on the senator’s planned return date.
Privately, Republicans have been increasingly concerned about Cochran’s health, who is in his seventh term in the Senate and chairs the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.
“Just a few weeks ago, President Donald Trump seemed to signal in a speech about repealing Obamacare that Cochran was in the hospital, prompting his staff to release an official statement from the senator,” Politico reported on Friday.
“I will return to the Senate on October 16 in order to continue to work on the appropriations process and participate in upcoming debates on the budget and tax reform,” Cochran said in a statement his Senate office staff released and Politico reported.
Contacted by Politico on Friday, “His spokesman said that statement is still accurate and he will return next week.”
Apparently, however, that earlier statement is now no longer accurate.
Concerns about Cochran’s health have been public for several years, as Breitbart reported:
Conservatives have been convinced for three years that the Mississippi Republican establishment machine, led by longtime party boss Haley Barbour, stole that 2014 Republican primary runoff from [State Senator Chris] McDaniel and handed it to Cochran.
At the time, questions about Senator Cochran’s mental and physical health were widespread in Mississippi.
Many conservatives argued that Cochran was being propped up by aides in order to fulfill the duties of his office.
Now, in October 2017, Cochran’s continued absences from Washington have brought those concerns back to the front of the Mississippi political agenda.
The Republican establishment and allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fear that if Cochran is forced to resign in the near future and Gov. Phil Bryant appoints a replacement, both that Senate seat and the seat of the other Republican establishment senator from Mississippi, Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), will be on the ballot in the November 2018 general election.
As Breitbart News noted on Friday, “Should Cochran resign in the near future and both Republican Senate seats are in play, both sides — the establishment politicians aligned with Majority Leader McConnell and the economic nationalist conservative/populist coalition aligned with Breitbart executive chairman and former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon — are certain to pull out all the stops to achieve a double-barreled victory in Mississippi.”