Senate Minority Whip John CornynJohn CornynAbbott bows to Trump pressure on Texas election audit Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook Democrats up ante in risky debt ceiling fight 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.
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 GrahamGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump pushes back on book claims, says he spent 'virtually no time' discussing election with Lee, Graham The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden meets with lawmakers amid domestic agenda panic MORE (S.C.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFBI investigating alleged assault on Fort Bliss soldier at Afghan refugee camp The Memo: Biden's immigration problems reach crescendo in Del Rio Matthew McConaughey on potential political run: 'I'm measuring 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 McCainWhoopi Goldberg signs four-year deal with ABC to stay on 'The View' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Meghan McCain: Country has not 'healed' from Trump under Biden MORE (R-Ariz.), who was not involved in the Cornyn letter.