Both Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker voted against confirming Chuck Hagel as defense secretary Tuesday, joining the majority of their Republican colleagues in opposing President Barack Obama’s nominee and closing cantankerous weeks of debate over Hagel’s qualifications for the post.
Hagel was confirmed in a 58-41 vote, with only two GOP senators opting to vote yea.
According to a New York Times report, the margin was the narrowest ever for a defense nominee.
Following the vote, Alexander’s office issued a brief statement simply saying that the senator did not think Hagel was the best choice for the job. Alexander listed no other reasons for his opposition.
“I consider Chuck Hagel a patriot, but he is not the right person to lead the world’s largest military organization in these dangerous times,” Alexander said in the news release.
As of Tuesday evening, Corker’s office had not issued any statement regarding Hagel.
Both senators cast votes two weeks ago to stall Hagel from gaining the 60 needed after a procedural rule was invoked by Republicans to continue debate. In statements following their votes to delay Hagel’s confirmation, the senators declined to call the process a filibuster.
Before casting their votes against Hagel Tuesday, Alexander and Corker voted in favor of invoking cloture on debate surrounding Hagel’s confirmation, a move that effectively set up the final up-or-down vote. Both senators had committed earlier to voting to end debate on Hagel this week.
Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, was nominated by the president to replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in January. A veteran of the Vietnam War, Hagel received two Purple Hearts.