Cindy Hyde-Smith sworn in as Mississippi's latest senator
© Wikimedia Commons

Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) was sworn in on Monday to fill the seat vacated by former Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranBiden has a lot at stake in first debate The Hill's Morning Report — Trump turns the page back to Mueller probe Trump praises Thad Cochran: 'A real senator with incredible values' 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 Wicker The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation GOP lawmaker: 'Dangerous' abuse of Interpol by Russia, China, Venezuela Suburban anxiety drives GOP on guns MORE (R) accompanied Hyde-Smith, as did GOP Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE (Utah), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderHere are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 EXCLUSIVE: Swing-state voters oppose 'surprise' medical bill legislation, Trump pollster warns The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (Tenn.) Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Congress passes bill to begin scenic byways renaissance MORE (Maine) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' Democrats press for action on election security Hillicon Valley: Election security looms over funding talks | Antitrust enforcers in turf war | Facebook details new oversight board | Apple fights EU tax bill MORE (Ky.), along with Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall MORE (D-N.Y.).

Pence and Hyde-Smith are also expected to take part in a mock swearing-in from the old Senate chamber.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' 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 John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border 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.