Update at 5:10 p.m. ET. Hagel Confirmed:
After an unprecedented filibuster by Republicans, the nomination of Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense prevailed, Tuesday afternoon.
With a vote of 58 to 41, the Senate acted mostly along party lines to confirm Hagel.
Hagel was a two-term Republican senator from Nebraska. As our friend Ken Rudin explained in January, Hagel served in Vietnam, where he won two Purple Hearts and he will become the first Vietnam veteran to head up the U.S. Department of Defense
When Obama made the nomination, he said in Hagel he had found someone who understood "the consequences of decisions we make in this town."
The Senate Armed Services Committee had voted earlier to approve the Hagel nomination, but Republicans held up an up-or-down vote in front of the whole Senate citing issues with Hagel's stand on Iran.
Hagel is replacing Leon Panetta.
Update at 5:14 p.m. ET. Four Republicans Join Democrats:
NPR's David Welna tells us that:
"No Democrats opposed the nomination, and four Republicans Johanns, Cochran, Shelby and Paul voted to confirm."
Our Original Post Continues:
The Senate voted today to stop debating and allow the nomination of former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense to come for a vote before the full Senate.
Hagel is expected to be confirmed.
As we reported, Senate Republicans took the unprecedented step of filibustering his nomination. On Valentines Day, they voted 58 to 40 to continue debate on his nomination.
Today, the Senate voted 71 to 27 in favor of cloture.
As they detailed in a letter to President Obama, Republicans oppose Hagel in part because of what they say is an untenable position on Iran.
Fifteen Republicans called for Obama to withdraw the nomination. The White House refused.
Reuters reports the nomination is now expected to come before the full Senate either later today or Wednesday. Hagel needs at least 51 votes to be confirmed.