Senate confirms Hagel for defense secretary

Four Republicans joined 54 Democrats in approving President Obama's nominee

Topics: Chuck Hagel, Defense Secretary, Barack Obama, From the Wires, U.S. Senate,

Senate confirms Hagel for defense secretaryFILE - In this Jan. 31, 2013 file photo, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel testifies at his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. The fierce Republican opposition to President Barack Obama's choice of Hagel to be defense secretary is both personal and business, and the nasty fight long has been seen as a proxy for the never-ending scuffles between the Democratic president and congressional Republicans. Barring any surprises, the drawn-out battle over his nomination probably will end this coming week with his Senate confirmation. But Hagel's fellow Republicans have roughed him up. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)Show was coinci (Credit: AP)

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.

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