Senate Votes to Move Ahead on Hagel, Clearing Way for Confirmation
(NBC News) -- Former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., moved a step closer to becoming the nation's next defense secretary after the Senate voted Tuesday to end debate on his nomination, and move toward a final confirmation vote.
Hagel's nomination cleared a key threshold in a midday vote on Tuesday, ending a week-and-a-half-long delay forced by Republicans who object to their former colleague's nomination.
The Senate voted 71 to 27 to move forward with Hagel's nomination, clearing the 60-vote threshold needed to end the GOP filibuster. Several Republicans who'd previously voted to block Hagel reversed their votes, and allowed him to move toward confirmation.
The vote all but ensures Hagel's confirmation, since only a simple majority of senators are needed in that vote, and Democrats — who all backed former Republican senator — all back Hagel. That vote on final confirmation could come as soon as Tuesday evening.
Tuesday's vote brings the bruising fight over Hagel's nomination near to its conclusion.
Republicans had fought strenuously to defeat Hagel, accusing him at points of harboring hostilities toward Israel, and sympathies for the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Tied into Hagel's nomination as well have been Republicans' long-running effort to ding President Barack Obama and his administration over their handling of the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
"What has their filibuster gained my Republican colleagues?" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., asked on the Senate floor. "Twelve days later, Senator Hagel's exemplary record of service to his country remains untarnished."
Reid added: "Senate Republicans have delayed for the better part of two weeks for one reason and one reason only: partisanship."
Hagel didn't necessarily help his cause during a combative confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Republicans aggressively questioned Hagel on a variety of matters during the Jan. 31 hearing.
Even still, Democrats held firm in their backing for the former Nebraska senator, helping to move his nomination forward. Republicans, though, managed to buy themselves more time — they said, to more fully investigate Hagel's background — by waging a filibuster against the nomination on Feb. 14.
Democrats angrily protested the delay, especially as current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta planned to leave the job, as dangerous and unprecedented. Republican opponents of Hagel, though, said at that time that they would drop their objections to holding a confirmation vote after last week's recess.
Saturday, May 25 2013 10:52 PM EDT2013-05-26 02:52:27 GMT
(KCEN) -- An incident of road rage leaves a man dead tonight in Moody.Around 4:45 this afternoon officers from the Bell County Sheriff's Department responded to a shooting at the intersection of HighwayMore >>
An incident of road rage leaves a man dead tonight in Moody.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 8:48 PM EDT2013-05-26 00:48:32 GMT
(KCEN) -- A Texas sheriff's deputy who was shot during a nationwide manhunt returns to work. But, his rehabilitation isn't over yet. What should have been a routine traffic stop for Montague County SheriffMore >>
A Texas sheriff's deputy who was shot during a nationwide manhunt returns to work.
Saturday, May 25 2013 6:56 PM EDT2013-05-25 22:56:08 GMT
(KCEN) -- Gloomy weather isn't what many people were hoping for this Memorial Weekend, but there were some who made the best of the rainy day. Staff Sergeant Douglas Felter has been looking forward toMore >>
Gloomy weather isn't what many people were hoping for this Memorial Weekend, but there were some who made the best of the rainy day.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 6:27 PM EDT2013-05-25 22:27:40 GMT
(KCEN) -- One woman is dead, after a single car accident in McLennan County this morning. It happened on Heritage Parkway around 8:00 a.m. Police say the car was heading northbound on Heritage ParkwayMore >>
One woman is dead, after a single car accident in McLennan County this morning.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 5:54 PM EDT2013-05-25 21:54:04 GMT
(KCEN) -- Well it might be something in the water, but Lorena has produced more than one country music star. And she is making quite a name for herself. Inside her living room harmonizing with her boyfriendMore >>
Well it might be something in the water, but Lorena has produced more than one country music star.
And she is making quite a name for herself. More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 5:36 PM EDT2013-05-25 21:36:37 GMT
(KCEN) -- The Memorial Day holiday generally means the start of summer. So Temple parks are kicking off the season right by opening outdoor swimming pools, splash pads and a water park this weekend. TodayMore >>
The Memorial Day holiday generally means the start of summer.
So Temple parks are kicking off the season right by opening outdoor swimming pools, splash pads and a water park this weekend.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 5:41 PM EDT2013-05-24 21:41:32 GMT
(KCEN) -- While Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer, it really is about veterans. On Monday, veterans will be honored all across central Texas and many events are open to the public. StartingMore >>
While Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer, it really is about veterans.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 4:46 PM EDT2013-05-24 20:46:06 GMT
(KCEN) -- Buckle up this holiday weekend or face steep fines by the DPS. Troopers will be out in full force for this Memorial Day Weekend as part of their annual Click It Or Ticket Campaign. The increasedMore >>
Buckle up this holiday weekend or face steep fines by the DPS.More >>