Democrats and Republicans broke sharply over whether the former Republican senator from Nebraska is the right man to run the Pentagon. Supporters cited Hagel’s experience as an enlisted soldier in Vietnam and his service in the Senate and elsewhere as reasons he should succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta while opponents stuck with their criticisms about Hagel’s past positions on Iran, Israel and the defense budget.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) had warned senators that rejecting Hagel would endanger the Pentagon at a time it could ill afford another complication.
“If there’s a risk here, it is that the defeat of this nomination would leave the Department of Defense leaderless at a time when we face immense budgetary challenges and our military is engaged in combat operations overseas,” Levin said.
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