Republican Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.) announced Monday that he will resign from office, citing health concerns.
Cochran will formally resign from office effective April 1, the Associated Press first reported. The seven-term Mississippi senator confirmed the news himself only minutes later.
"I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge," Cochran wrote in a statement. "I intend to fulfill my responsibilities and commitments to the people of Mississippi and the Senate through the completion of the 2018 appropriations cycle, after which I will formally retire from the U.S. Senate."
"My top concern has always been my constituents in Mississippi," he continued. "My hope is by making this announcement now, a smooth transition can be ensured so their voice will continue to be heard in Washington, D.C."
Cochran's retirement comes after the chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee took several medical leaves beginning in September 2017.
"Don't believe everything you hear," Cochran told Politico when asked last year if he planned on retiring.
By Mississippi law, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant will now appoint Cochran's temporary successor until a special election can take place at the same time as the 2018 general election. The new election creates an interesting calculus in the Republican field, where Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, had already announced his decision to challenge Mississippi's other U.S. Republican senator, Roger Wicker.