Reports last week surfaced that Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) has the ability to move from his current position as Ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee to the Ranking position on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Under Senate Republican rules, Senator Cochran has reached the term limit as the Ranking Member of Appropriations. Senator Cochran told the press last week that he is considering the options, but he has not made a final decision.
To take the Ranking Member spot on Agriculture, Senator Cochran will have to replace current Ranking Republican Pat Roberts (R-KS). If Sen. Roberts resists the move, Republicans on the Senate Agriculture Committee would have to come to a vote on the position, which would ultimately be decided in January, possibly subject to a vote in the full Republican conference. Past experience shows that Senators have always been reluctant to breach someone else’s seniority. Senator Roberts, however, has demonstrated his desire to remain in his position as Ranking Member on the committee.
The shuffle in leadership on the Senate Agriculture committee may have implications for completion of a five year bill this year, since Southerners in the House and Senate may prefer a one year extension now, with the opportunity to write a long-term bill next year with Senate Ag Committee leadership that is friendlier to Southern agriculture.