Former Sen. Chuck Hagel
Former Sen. Chuck HagelReuters

The Senate voted Tuesday to break a filibuster against the nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense.

The decision to end debate was approved on a 71-27 vote, easily clearing the 60-vote threshold, with a final vote is expected later Tuesday afternoon.  

Hagel's nomination had been held up for over a week as several Republicans demanded a delay in the process in order to obtain and review information about Hagel's finances and transcripts of speeches that he gave to international organizations in recent years.

However even some of his strongest critics, including Republicans Bob Corker, Lindsey Graham and John McCain, eventually voted to end debate on the nomination and allow a floor vote.

Sen. John Cornyn, who voted against the motion to proceed, was among the Republicans who continued to voice opposition Tuesday. "We should not be installing a defense secretary who is obviously not qualified for the job and who holds dangerously misguided views," he said, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Last week a group of fourteen U.S. senators wrote a letter to President Barack Obama on Friday, urging him to withdraw Hagel’s nomination saying, "his confirmation hearing was deeply concerning, leading to serious doubts about his basic competence to meet the substantial demands of the office.”

“While Senator Hagel's erratic record and myriad conversions on key national security issues are troubling enough, his statements regarding Iran were disconcerting,” they wrote. “More than once during the hearing, he proclaimed the legitimacy of the current regime in Tehran, which has violently repressed its own citizens, rigged recent elections, provided material support for terrorism, and denied the Holocaust.”

“If Senator Hagel becomes Secretary of Defense, the military option will have near zero credibility.  This sends a dangerous message to the regime in Tehran, as it seeks to obtain the means necessary to harm both the United States and Israel,” they added. "We have concluded that Senator Hagel is not the right candidate to hold the office of Secretary of Defense, and we respectfully request that you withdraw his nomination."