By Joe Rutherford/NEMS Daily Journal
Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran is considering seeking the post of top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, a spokesman in his Washington office confirmed Wednesday.
Politico.com reported that Cochran would seek to replace Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., as ranking member.
Cochran, in his sixth term, under Republican Senate Conference rules cannot remain as ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, which he chaired when Republicans held a Senate majority. The rules specify a six-year limit for Republican chairmen and/or ranking members.
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., confirmed to Politico that he plans to seek the ranking Appropriations position because by seniority he is qualified.
Cochran spokesman Christopher Gallegos said, “Politico is the primary story out there now, and the quotes it attributes to Senator Cochran are the only thing he has said publicly on the issue. As he indicated, the senator is considering his options.”
Cochran on Wednesday declined additional comments for the time being. The committee assignments for the new Congress will not be settled for another week, Gallegos noted.
Cochran, who will be up for re-election in 2014, is a member of Agriculture and a former chairman of the committee.
The Politico story Wednesday morning reported that Roberts “has been a thorn in the side of Southern producers because of his resistance to price supports.”
Politico said Cochran, who outranks Roberts in years of seniority, has yet to commit himself publicly.
“I’ve been looking at what the options are but I haven’t made any decisions,” he said initially when asked by Polotico. When told that Roberts had said flatly that he “intends” to remain the ranking Republican, “the always-gentle Cochran bristled a bit,” Politico reported.
“Well, I guess we’ll have to vote on it,” Cochran said.
Cochran said he is unhappy with the subsidy structure favored by Roberts, which would remove direct cash payments to farmers.