Hagel confirmed as next US secretary of defence
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Senate finally confirmed Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defence on Tuesday, ending an acrimonious nominations process and handing President Barack Obama a boost as he fills his second-term cabinet.
After Mr Hagel's bruising confirmation hearing and a 10-day delay thrown up by Republicans, Senators voted 58-41 to confirm the former Republican senator and decorated Vietnam War veteran to replace outgoing Pentagon chief Leon Panetta.
Mr Hagel, 66, is likely to be sworn in on Wednesday.
Four Republicans - surprisingly including tea party-backed Senator Rand Paul - joined the majority Democrats in approving Mr Hagel, compared with the 18 Republicans who had voted earlier in the day to overcome the blocking tactics and allow a full vote.