Feb 26, 2013 12:47 PM by Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Senate votes to move ahead on Chuck Hagel's Pentagon nomination, clearing way for confirmation.
The former Republican senator appears on track to head the Defense Department after a protracted partisan fight. Twelve days after Republicans stalled the nomination, the Senate is scheduled to vote on ending an unprecedented GOP filibuster of Hagel.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the twice-wounded Vietnam combat veteran has an "exemplary" and "untarnished" record of service to his country.
If Hagel gets the necessary votes, it would just be a matter of time for a simple up-or-down vote, although Republicans could insist on the maximum 30 hours of debate before a final vote.
If confirmed, Hagel would succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and join President Barack Obama's retooled national security team just days before automatic, across-the-board budget cuts hit the Pentagon.