Despite the fact that Washington D.C. has become incredibly polarized since the late 1980's, there hasn't been a Cabinet selection rejected by the U.S. Senate in 24 years.
In March of 1989, the U.S. Senate voted down George H.W. Bush's choice for Defense Secretary, former Texas Senator John Tower, by a 53-47 margin.
Other nominees have been withdrawn, however, when it appeared that their confirmation was going to be in serious trouble. Think about 1993, when Janet Reno became Bill Clinton's choice for Attorney General after his two selections, Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood, became embroiled in controversy over their employment of undocumented workers as nannies.
And even though he never put her name out for confirmation, we all witnessed what happened with Susan Rice in the weeks after the election, when Republicans used her as a pinata to attack the president regarding the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya in Benghazi. Though Rice was never officially nominated, she was rumored to be a serious contender. Instead, Obama named Massachusetts Senator John Kerry to the position, which some analysts say was a win for Republicans, as it now creates an opening that could see former Republican Senator Scott Brown retake the seat in a special election.
Now we have the situation with Chuck Hegel for Defense Secretary, who is expected to officially be nominated by President Obama on Monday.