15 GOP senators tell Obama to withdraw Hagel nomination

Senate Minority Whip John CornynJohn CornynOvernight Finance: House panel to take up bill toughening review of foreign deals | Trump acknowledges Cohen payment on disclosure form | Officials set for new round of China trade talks Groups urge Senate panel to reject Trump's pick for Louisiana-based appeals court House panel will consider bill to boost foreign investment review powers next week MORE (R-Texas) and 14 other Republican senators called Thursday for President Obama to withdraw former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) as his pick for Defense secretary.

The senators said in a letter to Obama that Hagel's nomination should be abandoned because it would be “unprecedented” for a Defense secretary to take over without a broad base of bipartisan support.

“In the history of this position, none has ever been confirmed with more than 11 opposing votes,” the senators wrote. “The occupant of this critical office should be someone whose candidacy is neither controversial nor divisive.”

Hagel’s confirmation has been the most contentious for a Defense secretary since former Sen. John Tower (R-Texas) was rejected by the Senate in 1989.

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Hagel faced the first ever filibuster of a Defense secretary nomination last week when Republicans blocked his confirmation from proceeding. Four Republicans joined the Democrats in supporting Hagel, falling one vote short of the 60 needed to proceed. 

Among the senators on the letter are Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in after Texas school shooting Kim Jong Un surprises with savvy power plays Overnight Finance: Watchdog weighs probe into handling of Cohen bank records | Immigration fight threatens farm bill | House panel rebukes Trump on ZTE | Trump raises doubts about trade deal with China MORE (S.C.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTen dead after shooting at Texas high school Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers For cable commentators, the 2016 GOP primary never ended MORE (Texas), who each had pushed to block Hagel’s confirmation. Cruz wanted more financial information, and Graham sought more details about the terrorists attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012. 

Graham, who has also asked Obama to withdraw Hagel’s nomination, says he will vote for cloture to proceed to a final vote after the current recess, after he received a White House response to his Benghazi inquiry last week.

The White House has already made clear it is sticking by Hagel, and there’s little chance Obama would consider pulling his nomination at this point.

Hagel is almost certain to get confirmed. No Democrats have said they oppose him, and a third Republican said he would vote for Hagel on Thursday: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

Multiple Republican senators said last week that they would allow a final up-or-down vote to proceed on Hagel when Congress returns next week, including Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump's plan to claw back spending hits wall in Congress Defense bill moves forward with lawmakers thinking about McCain How House Republicans scrambled the Russia probe MORE (R-Ariz.), who was not involved in the Cornyn letter.