Chuck Hagel has finally been confirmed as Secretary of Defense by a Senate vote of 58-41. Although they were able to prolong the process over the Defense Secretary nomination, today's vote serves as a stinging defeat to the neocon campaign against Hagel.
Emergency Committee for Israel Chairman Bill Kristol issued the following statement as the vote was becoming clear:
"We fought the good fight, and are proud to have done so. We salute all those -- Democrats and Republicans, Christians and Jews -- who joined with us in the effort to secure a better Secretary of Defense. We are heartened that the overwhelming majority of senators from one of the two major parties voted against confirming Mr. Hagel. We take some comfort in Mr. Hagel's confirmation conversions on the issues of Israel and Iran, and do believe that, as a result of this battle, Mr. Hagel will be less free to pursue dangerous policies at the Defense Department and less inclined to advocate them within the administration. And since hope is an American characteristic and a Jewish virtue, we will also say that we hope Mr. Hagel will rise to the occasion and successfully discharge his weighty duties. In this task we wish him well.
"This battle against Chuck Hagel is over. The fight for a principled, pro-Israel foreign policy goes on."
Chuck Hagel has just cleared a huge hurdle to becoming the next Defense Secretary. The Senate voted 71-27 to end debate over the nomination. Final vote could take place as early as this afternoon.
The Senate is now voting on a "cloture" motion to end debate over the Chuck Hagel nomination and move it forward to a vote up or down on the nomination. The cloture vote failed on Feb. 14, falling short by one vote.
It appears that the Senate will approve the cloture motion. In today's voting, a few Republicans have changed their vote; John McCain, for instance, voted to end debate and move the nomination forward. We'll keep you posted