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Senate panel unanimously approves Ashton Carter as defense chief

By Danielle Haynes
Senate panel unanimously approves Ashton Carter as defense chief
Ashton Carter takes his seat after a break to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to nominate the Secretary of Defense, in Washington DC, Wednesday. The committee unanimously approved Carter on Tuesday. Photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved former Pentagon official Ashton Carter as the new Secretary of Defense on Tuesday.

The 25-0 vote indicates President Barack Obama's pick to replace Chuck Hagel isn't likely to encounter resistance from Republicans when the full Senate votes on his nomination.

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That vote is expected to come Wednesday or Thursday, a Senate official told the Wall Street Journal. Should he be approved by the full chamber, Carter could begin work at the Pentagon as soon as Friday.

Carter has bachelor's degrees in physics and medieval history from Yale University and a doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford University. He was a Rhodes Scholar, as well.

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He served as deputy defense secretary from October 2011 to December 2013. His policy ideas seem to be in line with Obama's focus on making partnerships with Asia and fighting cyber crime and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

During last week's confirmation hearings, Carter told the Senate panel cuts to the Defense Department budget are "risky" because they imply diminished U.S. projection of power overseas.

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"Sequester is risky to our defense, it introduces turbulence and uncertainty that are wasteful, and it conveys a misleadingly diminished picture of our power in the eyes of friends and foes alike," Carter said during the first day of his confirmation hearing.

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Instead, Carter said he wants to see the U.S. spend more on defense, but noted the Pentagon has a history of wasteful spending that must be curbed.

"The taxpayer cannot comprehend, let alone support, the defense budget when they read of cost overruns, lack of accounting and accountability, needless overhead and the like," he said. "This must stop."

Tyler Pager and Aileen Graef contributed to this report.

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