After nearly two weeks of delay, the Senate voted Tuesday to end debate on former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel's nomination as Secretary of Defense.
The Senate voted 71 to 27 to move forward with Hagel's nomination, all but ensuring his confirmation in a vote expected to be held later in the day.
Earlier this month, the Senate fell short of the 60 votes needed to end debate on Hagel's nomination, with Republicans largely voting to filibuster the nomination of their former colleague.
In the latest vote, 18 Republicans joined with 51 Democrats and the Senate's two Independents in voting to end the filibuster.
With the vote to end debate on the nomination, Hagel will only need a simple majority to be confirmed as the successor to outgoing Pentagon chief Leon Panetta. All of the Senate Democrats are expected to vote in favor of his confirmation.
The confirmation vote may show a wider than usual partisan divide, however, as some Republicans have been highly critical of some of Hagel's past comments regarding Iran and Israel.
Hagel, who served in the Senate as a Republican, also angered some of his fellow party members due to his opposition to the Iraq war.
The Republican filibuster of Hagel's nomination also came as some GOP lawmakers demanded additional information from the Obama administration regarding the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., questioned what his Republican colleagues gained with the filibuster, arguing that the delay was politically-motivated.
"Senate Republicans have delayed for the better part of two weeks for one reason and one reason only: partisanship," Reid said in remarks on the Senate floor before the vote.
He added, "At a time when our nation faces threats abroad, the President's nominee for Secretary of Defense deserves a fair and constructive confirmation process."
While the vote to end the filibuster clears the way for Hagel's confirmation, some political analysts have questioned whether the fight over his nomination could limit his effectiveness as Defense Secretary.
by RTT Staff Writer
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