Hagel emerges with solid Dem support for Pentagon

3:57 AM, Feb 1, 2013   |    comments
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
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Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - He may have been bruised and battered, but Chuck Hagel emerged from a grueling confirmation hearing with solid Democratic support for his nomination to be President Barack Obama's next defense secretary.

Unclear is whether Republicans will try to block the nomination of their former GOP colleague. Republican senators hammered Hagel on issues ranging from Israel and Iran to his support for a group that advocates the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Mathematically, Hagel has the edge as he looks to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Democrats hold a 14-12 advantage on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Committee Chairman Carl Levin of Michigan says the panel could vote as early as next Thursday, contingent on Hagel's response to some lingering questions. Levin has expressed optimism about Hagel's prospects.

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