(CBS NEWS) After a protracted and bitterly contentious couple of weeks, former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., is finally poised to be confirmed as President Obama’s defense secretary, as the Senate today voted to proceed with a full vote on his nomination for the job after numerous delays.

Seventy-one senators voted to proceed with a vote on the embattled nominee, easily passing the 60-vote threshold. Several GOP senators who had previously voted against cloture switched their votes this time around, including Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.,  and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Hagel’s nomination has been controversial from the start: Even before he was officially tapped for the job, a handful of Republicans came out against the idea, particularly denouncing a number of his past statements about Iran and Israel. Outside advocacy groups were also swift to get involved, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on television ads aimed at torpedoing Hagel’s chances.

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