Published February 27, 2013
WASHINGTON – Chuck Hagel takes charge at the Defense Department with deep budget cuts looming and Republican opponents still doubtful that he's up to the job.
Hagel is expected to be sworn in Wednesday and is likely to address the staff in his first day as defense secretary. A bitterly divided Senate voted 58-41 to confirm the former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska.
Hagel is promising to work closely with Congress, but he faces lingering reservations about his ability to handle the responsibilities. Shortly after the vote, Sen. Lindsey Graham said he still has serious questions about Hagel and his qualifications.
Among Hagel's challenges are dealing with the budget cuts and deciding on troop levels in Afghanistan as the United States winds down its combat presence.