Senate Unanimously Confirms Panetta as Defense Secretary

Posted June 21st, 2011 at 5:35 pm (UTC-5)
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The U.S. Senate has confirmed Leon Panetta as the new secretary of defense.

Senators Tuesday voted unanimously for Panetta. The current Central Intelligence Agency director will succeed Robert Gates, who plans to retire next week.

Lawmakers praised Panetta ahead of the vote, calling him a “wise and solid” choice and noting his vast experience in matters of state. Panetta has served in the House of Representatives as a California congressman, and has chaired the House Budget Commitee. Additionally, Panetta was White House Chief of Staff under President Bill Clinton as well as director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Panetta is taking over the Pentagon at a time when President Barack Obama has called for an additional $400 billion in cuts to security spending.

Earlier this month, Panetta told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination that his first task at the Pentagon will be to ensure the United States prevails in the conflicts in which it is engaged, including in Iraq and Afghanistan.