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U.S. approves Hagel's nomination as Defense Secretary

U.S. approves Hagel's nomination as Defense Secretary

U.S. Senate panel on Tuesday afternoon approved the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel, U. S. President Barack Obama's pick as next Defense Secretary, sending it to the full Senate vote.
The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 14 to 11 after a lengthy meeting to approve Hagel's nomination to succeed retiring Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. The panel's Democrats backed Obama 's choice of next Pentagon Chief while Republicans remained opposed to the two-term Republican Senator from Nebraska.
The panel's approval will send Hagel's nomination to a vote by the entire Senate this week.
Republican lawmakers have stood in line to voice their opposition to Hagel's nomination, raising questions over whether the former senator would be a strong ally of Israel and be tough enough on Iran. Some Republicans, including members of the Armed Services Committee, threw harsh questions over Hagel during the eight-hour nomination hearing on Jan. 31.
Responding to the criticism at the hearing, Hagel said he backed the U.S. policy of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and that all options including the use of military force are on the table.
Hagel, 66, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and a moderate Republican, is expected to be a trusted ally of Obama on many issues including the U.S. military exit from Afghanistan. He served two terms from 1997 to 2009 as U.S. senator for Nebraska, and was a leading Republican critic of the Iraq War.

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