Hagel Confirmed as Defense Secretary by U.S. Senate

Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel. (Getty Images).

The Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Chuck Hagel to be the nation’s next defense secretary.

The vote Tuesday was 58-41, with four Republicans joining Democrats in backing President Barack Obama’s nominee.

The vote ended a contentious fight over the president’s choice for his second-term national security team.

Republicans opposed the former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska, casting him as woefully incompetent and overly critical of Israel. But Democrats stood together for Hagel, a twice-wounded Vietnam combat veteran.

Hagel Confirmed as Defense Secretary by U.S. Senate

Chuck Hagel (right) and his brother, Tom, both served in the Vietnam War. (AP Photo).

Hagel will succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is stepping down after four years as CIA director and Pentagon chief.

The vote came just hours after Republicans dropped their delay and allowed the nomination to move forward. The Senate vote to end the filibuster was 71-27.

The four GOP senators who voted to confirm Hagel were Sens. Thad Cochran (Miss.), Mike Johanns (Neb.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), and Rand Paul (Ky.).

Sen. Paul explained to reporters Tuesday evening that his support for the Hagel filibuster wasn’t a guarantee he’d vote against confirmation.

“I voted no because I wanted more information and I think that part of what the Senate does is try to get information about the nominees,” said the senator, according to BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray. “I’ve said all along that I give the president some prerogative in choosing his political appointees.”

“There are many things I disagree with Chuck Hagel on, there are many things I disagree with John Kerry on, there are very few things I agree with the president on, but the president gets to choose political appointees,” he added.

The senator concluded by saying he never got the information he was looking for on Hagel.

Here’s a breakdown of how the senate voted Tuesday:

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. This post has been updated.