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Chuck Hagel Confirmed As Defense Secretary

After surviving a cloture vote, it was clear that Chuck Hagel’s nomination for be the next Secretary of Defense would pass the actual nomination vote easily. This afternoon, that’s what happened and, not surprisingly, it was one of the closer votes for a Cabinet nomination we’ve seen in recent years:

Chuck Hagel won confirmation Tuesday to become defense secretary over objections to his views on Middle East security and the administration’s handling of an attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya.

On a 58 to 41 vote, the Senate confirmed the former GOP senator as four Republicans joined 54 Democrats in approving Hagel, ending a nearly two-month battle that included an unprecedented filibuster against the nominee.

The four Republican senators voting in favor were Thad Cochran (Miss.), Mike Johanns (Neb.), Richard C. Shelby (Ala.) and Rand Paul (Ky.). All 41 no votes came from Republicans.

The vote marked a foreign policy victory for President Obama, who pushed the nomination of his old friend from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee despite warnings of a rough confirmation process. Hagel, a former Army infantryman who was awarded two Purple Hearts during the Vietnam War, will become the first enlisted man to go on to lead the Pentagon.

Democrats blasted the delayed confirmation, which has forced outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to remain at the Pentagon an additional two weeks.

“His record of service to this country is untarnished; 12 days later, President Obama’s support for his qualified nominee is still strong; 12 days later, the majority of senators still support his confirmation. Senate Republicans have delayed for the better part of two weeks for one reason: partisanship,” Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday morning, before a procedural midday vote that ended the filibuster and paved the way for the confirmation vote.

Republicans, however, warned that the incoming secretary assumes office with the largest number of opposition votes of anyone to ever win confirmation to lead the Pentagon. They expressed concern that the process left him politically weaker in his dealings with Congress and possibly abroad.

“I hope those concerns are proven wrong,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), a freshman on the Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. “I fervently hope that this confirmation does not embolden Iran to accelerate their nuclear weapons development; I fervently hope that this confirmation does not undermine our vital alliance with Israel.”

Cruz became one of Hagel’s leading opponents during his confirmation hearings and in further deliberation, effectively leading the filibuster since Feb. 14 as he demanded more documents about the Nebraskan’s personal finances after leaving the Senate four years ago. His staunch opposition to Hagel helped set off an internal Republican drama. Onetime friends, particularly Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), turned on Hagel and deemed him insufficiently strong in defending Israel, particularly from the potential nuclear threat of Iran.

At times, the opposition to Hagel took on personal tones, as McCain told one interviewer that there was a “lot of ill will” toward the Nebraskan for the way he turned his back on the GOP in his final years in the Senate.

Hagel countered the questions about how tough he would be toward Iran in a series of face-to-face meetings with key senators, during which he also recanted controversial remarks about the confirmation of an openly gay ambassador during the Clinton administration. However, in his confirmation hearing this month, Hagel appeared to stumble over several questions and gave his opponents more momentum.

The vote to confirm Hagel is the closest for a Cabinet member since the 2001 vote to confirm John Ashcroft as Attorney General, which was 58-42.

Now, I have to ask Republicans one questions. What, exactly, do you think you accomplished with this embarrassing display of yours?

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Markey says:

    Freak out Republicans…..

    :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  2. @Markey:

    Oh you should see what the right wing side of Twitter has been saying for the last couple hours. It’s amusingly delusional

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  3. legion says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Lemme guess… they want to impeach Obama for nominating such a terrible person to such a critical position?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  4. Rick Almeida says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Since I don’t use twitter, I’d love a representative sample.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. ralphb says:

    @Rick Almeida: Without using twitter, you can go over to twitchy.com, Malkin’s twitter for tweakers site, and see some aggregations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. Mr. Replica says:

    Rand Paul voted in favor. Obviously, he’s now a RINO.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. Mr. Replica says:

    Ah, so that’s why. Rand isn’t up for re-election till 2016. Makes sense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. DRF says:

    Ya gotta love Ted Cruz: “I fervently hope that this confirmation does not undermine our vital alliance with Israel.” Sure, because Israel just might abandon its alliance with the U.S. and go over to…..who?…the Soviet Union? …China?……Venezuela?….

    Someone might want to explain to Cruz who the dominant power is in that relationship.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  9. Andre Kenji says:

    Ted Cruz Credo. ;-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. matt bernius says:

    The four Republican senators voting in favor were Thad Cochran (Miss.), Mike Johanns (Neb.), Richard C. Shelby (Ala.) and Rand Paul (Ky.).

    Credit where it’s due — hat’s off to these four for crossing lines.

    @Mr. Replica:

    Rand Paul voted in favor. Obviously, he’s now a RINO.

    If the popularly held position is true, and Hagel’s nomination is about Military cuts, then while he might be a RINO, it’s clear that on this issue Mr Paul is proving that he’s more (idealistic) Tea Party than GOP.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. bandit says:

    After Hagel’s testimony if front of the Senate why would anyone in their right mind want him appointed dog catcher?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  12. al-Ameda says:

    @bandit:

    After Hagel’s testimony if front of the Senate why would anyone in their right mind want him appointed dog catcher?

    Interesting, that’s exactly how I felt when witnessing Clarence Thomas’s performance at the hearings concerning his nomination to the Supreme Court.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. Dave Schuler says:

    Doug, I think you’ve got this wrong. The Republicans have actually handled this pretty well.

    The president nominated a candidate for Secretary of State who was below par—is there any real doubt about that after his testimony? The Republicans dragged it out a bit and made the candidate suffer a bit about it but, ultimately, allowed him to be confirmed on the grounds that the president deserves what he wants.

    We probably all would have been better off if the president had nominated a stronger candidate. Remember that HIllary Clinton was confirmed 94-2 with a Senate not tremendously different than the one we’ve got now. But the president didn’t, now he’s got the Secretary of State he wanted, and, if anything goes pear-shaped, it’s on him.

    Given the nomination, what better course of action could the Republicans have taken?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  14. G.A.Phillips says:

    I am all done with the Republican Party. This idiot anti semite was the last straw…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  15. mantis says:

    @G.A.Phillips:

    I am all done with the Republican Party. This idiot anti semite was the last straw…

    The Republican Party has been embracing idiot anti-semites for decades. Hagel isn’t one of them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  16. mantis says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Hagel is Secretary of Defense, not State.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Rick Almeida says:

    @ralphb:

    Thank you!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. David M says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Given the nomination, what better course of action could the Republicans have taken?

    They could have decided not to fabricate quotes to smear him with and actually addressed real issues. Instead the GOP made themselves look like morons with no principles.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. G.A.Phillips says:

    The Republican Party has been embracing idiot anti-semites for decades. Hagel isn’t one of them.

    lol…sigh…you might be an idiot anti semite if you can’t tell that Hagel is one…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  20. Dave Schuler says:

    @mantis:

    Yes. Thank you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. mantis says:

    @G.A.Phillips:

    lol…sigh…you might be an idiot anti semite if you can’t tell that Hagel is one…

    My Jewish grandmother would be surprised to hear that.

    Absence of lockstep support for every Israeli policy and support of Israeli influence in US politics is not evidence of antisemitism, regardless of what Jennifer Rubin or various other morons say.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. wr says:

    @G.A.Phillips: Hey, GA — You ever actually met a Jewish person?

    Didn’t think so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Davebo says:

    @G.A.Phillips:

    lol…sigh…you might be an idiot anti semite if you can’t tell that Hagel is one”

    Along with roughly half the population of Israel.

    But hey, who cares what Jews think when it comes to Antisemitism eh G.A.? Then again should we really listen to the guy who can’t even spell it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    Then again should we really listen to the guy who can’t even spell it? – See more at: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/chuck-hagel-confirmed-as-defense-secretary/#sthash.7JfcXgPH.dpuf

    Credit where credit is due, he managed one whole post of 16 words without chatspeak. He’s clearly on the upswing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Tyrell says:

    Advice I would give Sec. Hagel: trust, but verify. Don’t commit troops without a plan to win and an exit plan. Always keep an eye on Russia.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. G.A.Phillips says:

    My Jewish grandmother would be surprised to hear that.

    Hitler was part Jewish…

    Hey, GA — You ever actually met a Jewish person?

    Didn’t think so.

    I know Harry:)

    Absence of lockstep support for every Israeli policy and support of Israeli influence in US politics is not evidence of antisemitism, regardless of what Jennifer Rubin or various other morons say.

    Look here lib, I study history and many of you here fit the mold of anti semite and idiot.

    But hey, who cares what Jews think when it comes to Antisemitism eh G.A.? Then again should we really listen to the guy who can’t even spell it?

    lol, it must suck to know someone who can’t spell good that is a thousand times smater then you, hey?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. mantis says:

    @G.A.Phillips:

    I study history

    Aww, aren’t you cute?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Rick Almeida says:

    @G.A.Phillips:

    Look here lib, I study history

    I’ll bite. What are the last 10 history books you’ve read?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. An Interested Party says:

    What are the last 10 history books you’ve read?

    These look like they are his preferred method of learning about history…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0