A bitterly divided Senate panel on Tuesday approved President Barack Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel to be the nation’s defense secretary in a rancorous session at which Republican questioned the former GOP senator’s truthfulness and challenged his patriotism.
On a party-line vote of 14-11, the Armed Services Committee voted to send the nomination to the full Senate, where Republicans have threatened to delay a vote on the president’s choice to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Democrats have the votes to confirm Hagel, a twice-wounded Vietnam combat veteran and former two-term Nebraska senator, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he would press ahead with a vote on the most-divisive nominee of Obama’s second- term national- security team.
Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said after the hearing that he was hopeful the Senate could confirm Hagel by week’s end.
Hagel has faced fierce opposition from Republicans who have challenged his past statements and votes on Israel, Iran, Iraq and nuclear weapons.