The Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of the nation's first national intelligence director, John Negroponte (search), clearing the way for the full Senate to consider President Bush's pick.

The closed-door vote means the former Iraq ambassador and longtime diplomat could be in his new job this month. Negroponte's nomination has generated little controversy in Congress.

As part of an overhaul of intelligence agencies last year, lawmakers approved the creation of a national intelligence director (search), which the Sept. 11 commission had recommended.

The director is supposed to bring together the country's 15 spy agencies to improve coordination against threats that have evolved since the end of the Cold War (search).

The intelligence chief's organization is just forming now. Negroponte is working near the White House as officials look for office space and consider how to structure his staff. The House and Senate have given preliminary approval to Bush's request of $250 million to set up the new operation and other intelligence-related projects.

The Senate committee also approved the nomination of Negroponte's deputy, Michael Hayden, who is now the head of the National Security Agency.