Cochran delivers farewell Senate address

GOP Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranBottom line Bottom line Alabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future MORE (R-Miss.) delivered an optimistic farewell address on Thursday and his colleagues praised him as a "gentleman" as he prepares to retire after four decades in the chamber. 

"I leave the Senate with the confidence ... that our enduring Constitution [will] guard our country from human error. It empowers our citizens to achieve greatness and protect the common interest," Cochran said.

Cochran added that he was "optimistic" about the future of the country.

"I'm optimistic about the future success of our efforts to protect the security, the health, to the guarantees of the Bill of Rights of the United States," he said.

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Cochran's speech comes as he's expected to formally resign his seat on April 1, in the middle of the Senate's two week recess.

He announced his decision to retire earlier this month, saying in a statement that his health was an "ongoing challenge" and he wanted to step down with enough time to ensure a "smooth transition" to his successor. 

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, named named Cindy Hyde-Smith, the state's commissioner of agriculture and commerce, as his a temporary successor ahead of a special election to be held in November.

Roughly a dozen senators delivered tribute speeches in honor of the 80-year-old senator over approximately an hour.

"In an era where not everybody seems to think it's important to act like a gentleman, Thad Cochran is a gentleman, and we respect that and the example that he has set," said Sen. 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 (R-Tenn.).

Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Pelosi hammers 'anti-science, anti-vaccination' Republicans for threatening shutdown MORE (R-Ala.), who is expected to succeed Cochran as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said "some people say that Thad Cochran is the last true southern gentleman."

"Thad, as we all know, is very courteous, well-mannered, has a low-key demeanor most of the time," he said.