Chuck Hagel

Chuck Hagel

At least 15 Republican senators called on President Obama Thursday to withdraw his nomination of Chuck Hagel for Defense secretary, citing the historic controversy surrounding the nominee.

Hagel was blocked last week from an up-or-down vote in the Senate, in an unprecedented move against a candidate to lead the Pentagon. Lawmakers held up the nomination over lingering questions on the Benghazi terror attack but also concerns about Hagel’s record of controversial statements and positions on a range of Middle East issues.

Lawmakers are expected to vote again on Hagel when they return to Washington next week, with some of Hagel’s critics indicating they will allow an up-or-down vote.

But the 15 Republican lawmakers said it would be unwise at this point to proceed with a nomination so controversial, for a job so critical.