Republican Chuck Hagel has been approved by a Senate panel to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
A divided Armed Services Committee voted 14 to 11 in favor of sending Hagel's nomination to the full Senate. All 14 Democrats on the committee voted in favor, but the twice-wounded Vietnam veteran faces strong Republican opposition from senators who worry Hagel is too tolerant of Iran and not supportive enough of Israel.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is calling for a vote by the full Senate before the end of the week and Democrats hold the majority necessary to vote in favor of Hagel.
Some GOP senators are threatening to filibuster the nomination.
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