Senate panel approves Pentagon nominee Chuck Hagel

A bitterly divided Senate panel has voted to approve the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be the nation's defense secretary.

The Armed Services Committee voted 14-11 to send the nomination to the full Senate. Tuesday's vote broke along party lines with all 14 Democrats backing President Barack Obama's choice.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is pushing for a full Senate vote by week's end, but some Republicans are threatening to filibuster the nomination.

Hagel, a former two-term Republican senator and Vietnam combat veteran, faces strong opposition from GOP senators. They have questioned whether he is sufficiently supportive of Israel and too tolerant of Iran.

Prior to the vote, Senator Deb Fischer took the opportunity to once again express her opposition to Hagel's confirmation. Fischer said the next secretary of defense will make critical decisions with respect to budgeting for national defense that will define it's future for decades to come. Confronting a pre-nuclear Iran, dealing with an increasingly beligerent nuclear armed North Korea, and a bellicose China. Fischer said she does not believe he (Hagel) will chart the right course for our country, and the effect of his decisions on these topics will last for decades.

Democrats have the votes to confirm Hagel on a majority vote. He would succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

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