By ALAN FRAM
WASHINGTON (AP) - Top Republicans coping with a razor-thin majority as they try pushing a partisan agenda through the Senate are running smack into another complication - the sheer age and health issues of some senators.
On Monday, the office of the ailing Sen. Thad Cochran announced it was the Mississippi Republican's "intention to return to the Senate when his health permits."
That underscored the challenges of navigating a chamber that's the second oldest ever.
Cochran's absence narrows the GOP's margin for error on a pivotal budget vote this week. Meanwhile, the Appropriations Committee that he chairs hasn't churned out any spending bills for next year since he was last in Washington in mid-September.
Cochran is one of three senators who have missed time this year in Washington because of health issues.
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