Unprecedented

Senate Republicans write to Obama asking him to withdraw Hagel nomination

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In an unprecedented move, Senate Republicans on Thursday sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to withdraw his nomination of Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense.

15 senators signed the letter, including prominent names like John Cornyn and rising stars like Marco Rubio. John McCain, however, one of the most senior members of the legislative body, did not.

Nonetheless, the letter is scathing in its assessment of Hagel. "Senator Hagel’s performance at his confirmation hearing," it says at one point, "was deeply concerning, leading to serious doubts about his basic competence to meet the substantial demands of the office."

It referred to the nominee as "controversial" and "divisive," while referring to his views on Iran as "dangerous."

The letter particularly noted that Republican opposition to Hagel would be nearly total, and that the vote would fall largely along party lines. "Over the last half-century," the senators wrote, "no secretary of defense has been confirmed and taken office with more than three senators voting against him."

The Hagel nomination, the letter says, should not set such a precedent.

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