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Hagel stalled, but confirmation still expected

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Photo -   FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2013, file photo, Republican 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. Senate Republicans on Feb. 14, 2013, temporarily blocked a full Senate vote on Hagel's nomination as defense secretary.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2013, file photo, Republican 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. Senate Republicans on Feb. 14, 2013, temporarily blocked a full Senate vote on Hagel's nomination as defense secretary.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans have forced Leon Panetta to remain in the job he is eager to give up. They did that by delaying a confirmation vote on Chuck Hagel as defense secretary.

But they also have given the White House an opening to cast the GOP as obstructing President Barack Obama's assembly of a second-term national security team.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans temporarily blocked a Hagel confirmation vote.

They are insisting that the administration must first answer more questions about its handling of a terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, last September. The vote to clear the way for an up-or-down vote fell just short of the needed 60.

The White House call it "political posturing" and Democrats say the result is a threat to national security.

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