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Fifteen republican senators filed a letter to President Obama, calling on him to drop his nomination of Chuck Hagel to serve as the next Secretary of Defense.
The move comes after a long and arduous process of nomination for Hagel, as his initial domination was delayed by a Republican filibuster. The issue is set to return to the Senate next Tuesday, when the issue would leave debate and enter an up-or-down vote.
Notably, the letter does not include the signatures of Senators John McCain (R-AR), or Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). McCain, although a fierce critic of Hagel over his handling of the Benghazi embassy attacks, admitted earlier that he would be willing to let the issue move to a vote when the Senate reconvened.
Previously, GOP senators had criticized Hagel over his remarks on Israel and Iran. The letter claimed he had “displayed a seeming ambivalence about whether containment or prevention is the best approach.”
The letter was signed by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK), John Cornyn (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Roger Wicker (R-MS), David Vitter (R-LA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Dan Coats (R-IN), Ron Johnson (R-WI), James Risch (R-ID), Tom Coburn (R-OK), John Barrasso (R-WY) and Tim Scott (R-SC)
McCain, speaking to NBC on Sunday, said Hagel’s nomination should not be held up any further, and that while he opposes the nomination, admitted that Hagel “will probably have the votes necessary to be confirmed.”
Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) indicated he would support Hagel, placing him alongside Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Mike Johanns (R-NE) as the only Republican senators supporting Hagel’s nomination. His vote would give Hagel the necessary number of votes needed to win the nomination.