Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) was sworn in on Monday to fill the seat vacated by former Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranBottom line Bottom line Alabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future MORE (R-Miss.).
Vice President Pence administered the oath on the Senate floor to Hyde-Smith, who was formerly Mississippi’s commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce.
Fellow Mississippi Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerPennsylvania Republican becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case in Congress Senate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation 6 in 10 say Biden policies responsible for increasing inflation: poll MORE (R) accompanied Hyde-Smith, as did GOP Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLobbying world Congress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears MORE (Utah), Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration Authorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate MORE (Tenn.) Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Biden makes his pitch as tax questions mount Emanuel defends handling of Chicago police shooting amid opposition to nomination Emanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing MORE (Maine) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (Ky.), along with Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocratic frustration with Sinema rises Schumer endorses democratic socialist India Walton in Buffalo mayor's race Guns Down America's leader says Biden 'has simply not done enough' on gun control MORE (D-N.Y.).
Pence and Hyde-Smith are also expected to take part in a mock swearing-in from the old Senate chamber.
Hyde-Smith was appointed to the Senate seat after Cochran resigned on April 1 following four decades in the chamber.
Cochran announced his decision to retire last month, saying his health had became an "ongoing challenge" and he wanted to step down with enough time to ensure a "smooth transition" to his successor.
Cochran, who ran the Appropriations Committee, marked the third Senate committee chairman to announce his decision to retire or resign this year. GOP Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her MORE (Tenn.) and Hatch, who oversee the Foreign Relations and Finance committees, respectively, are retiring after 2018.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) announced late last month that Hyde-Smith, a former Democrat who joined the GOP in 2010, would temporarily fill Cochran’s seat.
Hyde-Smith is the state’s first female senator and brings the total number of women in the Senate to 23 — an all-time high for the chamber.
Under Mississippi election law, a special election will be held in November for the remainder of Cochran’s term, which runs through 2020. If no one receives 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates would then compete in a runoff.
Cochran’s retirement has shaken up Mississippi’s political scene.
Chris McDaniel, a conservative firebrand who unsuccessfully challenged Cochran in 2014, was running against Wicker in this year’s midterms but announced in March that he will run for Cochran’s seat instead.
Republicans are growing concerned that Cochran’s retirement could threaten their ability to keep his seat in the “R” column.
Hyde-Smith has close ties to the Trump administration and was reportedly considered for the role of Agriculture secretary after serving as a co-chair on President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE's Agriculture Advisory Committee during his presidential campaign.
But White House officials reportedly told Bryant that Trump would not endorse Hyde-Smith if she runs in November, fearing her past as a Democrat could be a ballot box liability.
Internal Republican polling showed Hyde-Smith behind both McDaniel and a Democratic candidate.