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U.S. Senate panel approves Hagel nomination as Pentagon chief

Reuters

February 13, 2013 | 4:24 am

Former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) testifies during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to be Defense Secretary, on Capitol Hill in Washington, in this Jan. 31 file photo. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Files

Former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) testifies during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to be Defense Secretary, on Capitol Hill in Washington, in this Jan. 31 file photo. Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Files

A U.S. Senate panel approved Chuck Hagel as President Barack Obama's new secretary of defense on Tuesday, setting the stage for a vote on his confirmation by the full Senate as soon as later this week.

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 14-11, with one senator voting "no instruction," along party lines to approve the former Nebraska Republican senator's confirmation to succeed Leon Panetta as the leader at the Pentagon.

Hagel's nomination has faced stiff opposition from some of his fellow Republicans, who raised questions about whether he was sufficiently supportive of Israel and tough on Iran.

Reporting By Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Sandra Maler

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