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It will take 60 votes in the Senate for Chuck Hagel to become the next secretary of defense.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced Wednesday he had been unable to get agreement from Republicans to have a straight majority vote on Hagel's nomination, so he filed a motion to cut off debate that will come to a vote on Friday, at the latest.
It will take 60 votes to cut off debate and allow a vote on Hagel, and the outcome is not clear because Democrats have only a 55-45 majority, including two Senate independents who vote with the Democrats.
Republicans, who largely oppose Hagel's nomination on a combination of policy grounds and what they feel are unanswered questions about what he has done in his private life, believe they have a chance to block the vote. Democrats believe they can get 60 votes to prevent a filibuster of the nomination as long as a few Republicans agree.
While the cloture motion filed by Reid automatically comes to a vote in three days, the Senate often agrees to allow an earlier vote. Because Monday is a federal holiday, the chance for a four-day weekend might encourage an earlier vote.