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Leon Panetta Defense Secretary Nomination Approved By Senate Panel

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WASHINGTON — The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved Leon Panetta to be the nation's next Pentagon chief.

The panel unanimously approved the nomination Tuesday by voice vote. The full Senate is expected to move quickly on the nomination.

Panetta is currently the CIA director. He would replace Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is retiring June 30 after 4 1/2 years in the post.

President Barack Obama nominated Panetta for the Pentagon job several weeks ago in a reshuffling of his national security team.

Panetta has served as a California congressman, chairman of the House Budget Committee and director of the Office of Management and Budget. He also was White House chief of staff for President Bill Clinton.

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