By Ben Armbruster/Think Progress The Senate on Tuesday voted to confirm Chuck Hagel to become the next Secretary of Defense, just hours after the upper chamber of Congress broke the Republican-led filibuster of Hagel’s nomination.
The final vote was 58-41. Four Republicans joined the Democrats in voting for Hagel: Sens. Mike Johanns (NE), Thad Cochran (MS), Richard Shelby (AL), and in a surprise move, Rand Paul (KY), who voted against cloture earlier today. Eighteen Republicans supportedthe cloture motion to bring about the up-or-down vote this afternoon.
Once sworn in, Hagel will most likely first face the looming budget crisis, particularly sequestration, which is set to kick in at the end of the week absent any deal. Hagel will also face other pressing issues like the coming drawdown in Afghanistan and the focus on Asia, none of which were debated much during the run-up to Hagel’s confirmation vote.
The Republicans and their neocon allies threweverythingthey could — however false,misleading, petty or shameless — at Hagel to try to prevent him from leading the Pentagon and TPM’s Josh Marshall may have stumbled across one of the main reasons why. “The real driver of this drama is that it signals a real closing of the door on the Bush era,” he wrote last week.