The US Senate has confirmed the appointment of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defence. Senators voted 58 to 41 in favour of President Barack Obama’s nominee for the role, with voting figures more or less reflecting party affiliations. Only four Republicans joined the Democrats and independents in the Senate to support Hagel, who is a former Republican senator. He only needed 51 votes to win the day.
Many Republicans protested against Hagel’s appointment; he angered party leaders when he was the Senator for Nebraska by criticising former President George Bush’s handling of the Iraq war. Moreover, some Republicans questioned the extent of Hagel’s support for Israel and have asked whether he takes a tough enough stance against Iran.
Hagel’s opponents also expressed fears that he will cooperate with Obama’s efforts to reduce Pentagon spending as a means to control the huge deficit in the US budget.
Outgoing Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta said that Hagel will be sworn in as his successor on Wednesday morning.