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Senate confirms Hagel for defense secretary

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Photo - FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2013 file photo, former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, President Obama's choice for defense secretary, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Hagel has lined up the necessary votes for the Senate to confirm him next week to be the nation's next defense secretary, after a senior Republican lawmaker said he will back President Barack Obama's choice. Barring any new developments, five-term Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama said he would vote for his fellow Republican.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2013 file photo, former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, President Obama's choice for defense secretary, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Hagel has lined up the necessary votes for the Senate to confirm him next week to be the nation's next defense secretary, after a senior Republican lawmaker said he will back President Barack Obama's choice. Barring any new developments, five-term Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama said he would vote for his fellow Republican. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

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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