US Senate confirms Leon Panetta as secretary of defense

WASHINGTON - The US Senate voted unanimously on Tuesday to confirm outgoing Central Intelligence Agency chief Leon Panetta as the new secretary of defense, replacing the retiring Robert Gates.
Panetta, who has held a variety of senior posts in Washington dating back decades, was nominated byUS President Barack Obama to head the Pentagon. Panetta is expected to start his new job on July 1.
The rare 100-0 vote followed a debate that saw praise for Panetta and anxiety about the challenges he will face to push defense budgets lower and oversee the start of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
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