That’s how many current senators were in the Senate when it rejected John Tower for defense secretary in March 1989. Tower was the last Cabinet nominee to be rejected by the full Senate.
The 15 senators include Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has scheduled a cloture vote for tomorrow on President Barack Obama’s nomination of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel for defense secretary. Hagel’s nomination moved to the Senate floor after it was approved Feb. 12 by the Armed Services Committee on a party-line vote of 14-11.
Tower was a former Texas senator when President George H.W. Bush nominated him for the top defense job 24 years ago. Tower’s nomination was rejected on a 47-53 vote, with three Democrats voting for Tower and one Republican opposing him in the Democratic-run Senate.
Unlike Tower, Hagel’s nomination is being vetted by a Senate led by the same party as the president. Democrats control 55 of 100 Senate seats.
The 15 senators in the current 113th Congress who voted on the Tower nomination all sided with their party in 1989. They are Democrats Reid of Nevada, Max Baucus of Montana, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Carl Levin of Michigan, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Republicans Dan Coats of Indiana, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Orrin Hatch of Utah, John McCain of Arizona, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Richard Shelby of Alabama. Shelby was a Democrat when he voted against Tower.