Senate confirms Hagel for defense secretary

Senate confirms Hagel for defense secretary

February 26th, 2013 by Associated Press in Local - Breaking News

In this Jan. 31, 2013, file photo, Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. A deeply divided Senate is moving toward a vote on President Barack Obama's contentious choice of Chuck Hagel to head the Defense Department, with the former Republican senator on track to win confirmation after a protracted political fight. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate has voted to confirm Chuck Hagel to be the nation's next defense secretary.

The vote Tuesday was 58-41, with four Republicans joining Democrats in backing President Barack Obama's nominee.

The vote ended a contentious fight over the president's choice for his second-term national security team.

Republicans opposed the former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska, casting him as out of the mainstream and overly critical of Israel. But Democrats stood together for Hagel, a twice-wounded Vietnam combat veteran.

Hagel will succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is stepping down after four years as CIA director and Pentagon chief.

The vote came just hours after Republicans dropped their delay and allowed the nomination to move forward. The Senate vote to end the filibuster was 71-27.