WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate has voted to confirm Chuck Hagel to be the nation's next defense secretary.
The vote Tuesday was 58-41, with four Republicans joining Democrats in backing President Barack Obama's nominee.
The vote ended a contentious fight over the president's choice for his second-term national security team.
Republicans opposed the former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska, casting him as out of the mainstream and overly critical of Israel. But Democrats stood together for Hagel, a twice-wounded Vietnam combat veteran.
Hagel will succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who is stepping down after four years as CIA director and Pentagon chief.
The vote came just hours after Republicans dropped their delay and allowed the nomination to move forward. The Senate vote to end the filibuster was 71-27.
Senator Dean Heller statement on Senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense:
“Even after sitting down with Senator Hagel in recent weeks, I still have concerns about his nomination to be Secretary of Defense. While I have great respect for Senator Hagel’s brave service in the Armed Forces, his statements and record on Middle East policy are particularly troubling. It is in the United States’ best interest to stand firm as a friend to Israel and never waver in our opposition to the dangerous behavior of the current Iranian regime. Any nominee as Secretary of Defense must send a clear message to both Israel and Iran that these policies will continue, and unfortunately, Senator Hagel does not fit this criterion,” said Senator Dean Heller.