15 GOP senators tell Obama to withdraw Hagel nomination

Senate Minority Whip John CornynJohn CornynBipartisan lawmakers target judges' stock trading with new bill Cornyn raises more than M for Senate GOP Is the Biden administration afraid of trade? 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 GrahamThune endorses Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race Pennsylvania Republican becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case in Congress McCain: Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner had 'no goddamn business' attending father's funeral MORE (S.C.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate confirms four Biden ambassadors after delay Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised The Senate confirmation process is broken — Senate Democrats can fix it 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 McCainSenate confirms four Biden ambassadors after delay Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' Grant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 MORE (R-Ariz.), who was not involved in the Cornyn letter.