Barring some unforeseen, last-minute development — e.g, secret photos from a playful beach-volleyball outing with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — former senator Chuck Hagel (R., Neb.) will be confirmed as the next Secretary of Defense.
The Senate voted 71–27 earlier today to end debate on Hagel’s nomination, one of the most controversial of its kind in recent memory, and will hold a final vote on confirmation at 4:30 this afternoon.
Eighteen Republicans — Senators Alexander (Tenn.), Ayotte (N.H), Blunt (Mo.), Burr (N.C.), Chambliss (Ga.), Coburn (Okla.), Cochran (Miss.), Collins (Maine), Corker (Tenn.), Flake (Ariz.), Graham (S.C.), Hatch (Utah), Johanns (Neb.), McCain (Ariz.), Murkowski (Alaska), Sessions (Ala.), Shelby (Ala.) and Thune (S.D.) — joined 53 Democrats in voting to proceed to a final vote, although presumably fewer will ultimately vote for confirmation. The earlier vote required a 60-vote threshold to proceed, but the final vote will require only a simple majority, meaning that Hagel could be confirmed with only Democratic votes.