Chuck Hagel was confirmed as Defense Secretary on Tuesday after a strong opposition from Senate Republicans. Despite being a Republican himself, Hagel had to face a possible filibuster in the process of his confirmation, which came with a 58-41 vote, the smallest margin for a defense secretary since 1947.
52 Democrats, two independents and just four Republicans voted to confirm Hagel, with 41 Republicans opposing him. The Senate had voted earlier in the afternoon 71-27 to end the debate of the nomination. Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska was nominated by President Obama to the post. Obama released the following statement:
“I will be counting on Chuck’s judgment and counsel as we end the war in Afghanistan, bring our troops home, stay ready to meet the threats of our time and keep our military the finest fighting force in the world.”
Hagel will be sworn in tomorrow morning and face spending cuts as they are set to automatically kick in on March 1. In a statement, Hagel said, “I will work closely with Congress to ensure that we maintain the strongest military in the world and continue to protect this great nation.”
Republicans opposed the nomination in part because of Hagel’s opposition to the troop surge in Iraq. There were also concerns about comments Hagel had made that put into question is commitment to Israel and suggestions were made that he received money from North Korea.