A bitterly divided Senate panel has voted to approve the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be US defence secretary.
The Armed Services Committee voted 14-11 to send the nomination to the full Senate. The vote, on Tuesday (local time), broke along party lines with all 14 Democrats backing President Barack Obama's choice.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is pushing for a full Senate vote by week's end, but some Republicans are threatening to try to stall the nomination.
Hagel, a former 12-year Republican senator and Vietnam combat veteran, faces strong opposition from senators in his own party. They have questioned whether he is sufficiently supportive of Israel and too tolerant of Iran.
Democrats have the votes to confirm Hagel on a majority vote in the 100-member Senate. He would succeed Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.