Senate Republicans have voted to block the nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense, although he could still be confirmed in a vote after the Senate comes back from its Presidents’ Day break.
The final vote was 58 to 40, with Senator Orrin Hatch voting present, but Democrats needed the support of 60 Senators to proceed to a final vote.
The most interesting vote was Sen. Rand Paul. Ever since becoming Senator, Paul has been threading the needle on foreign policy between the more libertarian and non-interventionist approach of his father Ron Paul, and the more hawkish approach of a most other Republicans. On this vote, he clearly sided with the more hawkish wing of the party, which will likely rankle his father’s supporters while earning him new fans.
Given the closeness of the vote — Reid had to switch his vote to ‘no’ at the last minute as a procedural maneuver to make sure he could bring up the nomination again — Paul could be seen as the deciding vote.
A number of Senators who voted “no” today expressed a willingness to vote for Hagel later in the month barring some major new revelations. That said, the extra few weeks will give opponents of the nomination extra time to dig into his record.