Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday filed a motion to end debate and vote to confirm President Barack Obama's defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, setting the stage for a vote later this week.
Hagel's confirmation will require support from at least 60 senators to proceed to a vote, forcing Democrats to find at least five Republicans to overcome the procedural hurdle. Many Republicans, most notably Arizona Sen. John McCain and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, have voiced strong opposition to Hagel's nomination, citing a lack of information about the nominee.
Presidential nominees typically require a simple majority vote, but because of Republican opposition the chamber will need 60 to end debate, technically a filibuster.
"This is the first time in the history of our country that a presidential nominee for secretary of defense has been filibustered," Reid said when he made the announcement from the Senate floor on Wednesday. "What a shame. But that's the way it is."
Senate leaders are planning to hold the procedural vote on Friday. If Hagel passes the cloture vote, the Senate could debate for up to 30 hours before a final vote on his nomination.