5:17 pm Feb. 26, 20131
Chuck Hagel was finally, officially, confirmed as the next Secretary of Defense on Tuesday, after weeks of Republican objections and a ceremonial filibuster.
The confirmation is a victory for the president, who nominated Hagel over some preemptive grumbling from pro-Israel groups, and, to a lesser extent, a win for Chuck Schumer, who provided key early cover for the nominee after a 90-minute White House meeting.
Hagel didn't make it particularly easy on Schumer, after several misstatements during his hearing before the Armed Services Committee, including saying that the United States currently employs a policy of containment toward Iran.
He also said that Iran's government was "legitimate," which then required Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to throw him a lifeline question to clarify his earlier remarks.
Schumer stuck by Hagel through the tough hearing, and then throughunsubstantiated claims about an old speech at Rutgers and a fabricated story that he had given a speech to an organization called "Friends of Hamas."
At a breakfast event last week, Schumer defended his support, saying Hagel nearly had tears in his eyes when Schumer explained to him why past comments about a "Jewish lobby" were so offensive.
Schumer's unwavering support could, in theory, earn him some goodwill around the White House.
In the end, a handful of Republicans voted for Hagel's confirmation, including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. The final vote was 58-41.