GOP Senators Drop Objections, Clear Path for Hagel's Confirmation

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 26 2013 12:49 PM

GOP Senators Stand Down, Clear Path for Hagel's Confirmation

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Chuck Hagel arrives for a meeting with U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara Mikulski last month

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The second time's the charm. The Senate voted this afternoon to move forward on the nomination of Chuck Hagel to replace Leon Panetta as secretary of defense. In the end, 71 senators voted for cloture to end a GOP filibuster that had temporarily derailed their former colleague's confirmation.

A final vote is scheduled for this evening, but given Hagel easily cleared the 60-vote threshold needed for cloture, he's now more or less a lock to become the next head of the Pentagon.

This afternoon's vote comes 12 days after John McCain and co. stalled Hagel's nomination. The Republicans opposed Hagel, a former GOP senator and a Vietnam vet, calling him unfit for the post and questioning his support for Israel. McCain, in particular, took issue with Hagel's vocal opposition to President Bush's decision to send extra troops to Iraq in 2007.

This post was updated with additional analysis.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.