Hagel conquers Senate offense to become secretary of defense

Politics | Whitney Williams

Hagel conquers Senate offense to become secretary of defense

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite

It’s official—Chuck Hagel is the nation’s defense secretary.

The Senate voted late Tuesday to confirm him, ending the months-long controversy over the president’s choice for his second-term national security team.

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Four Republicans—Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Mike Johanns, R-Neb.; Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala.; and Rand Paul, R-Ky., joined 54 Democrats in backing President Barack Obama’s nominee. 

All of the 41 “nays” came from Republicans who cast the former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska as out of the mainstream and excessively critical of Israel. 

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

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

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