A key U.S. Senate committee has approved President Barack Obama's nominee for the job of defense secretary, former senator Chuck Hagel.
The Armed Services Committee voted 14-11 to send Hagel's nomination to the full Senate. All of the committee's Democratic members voted to approve the nomination. The panel's Republicans voted against their former Senate colleague - a twice-wounded Vietnam War veteran.
Hagel's controversial positions on Israel, Iran and Iraq have rankled Senate Republicans. He has opposed unilateral sanctions against Iran, while some lawmakers have questioned his level of support for Israel. He also was opposed to the 2007 U.S. troop surge in Iraq.
A full Senate vote is expected later this week, but some Republicans are threatening to stall the nomination.
If confirmed, Hagel would become the third defense secretary under President Obama, following Robert Gates and current Secretary Leon Panetta.