URGENT ¥¥¥ Pentagon nominee Hagel clears key US Senate hurdle

President Barack Obama's embattled pick to head the Pentagon cleared a crucial hurdle Tuesday when many Republicans ended their obstruction and the Senate agreed to bring Chuck Hagel's nomination to a vote.

Members of the chamber voted 71-27, with 18 Republicans joining the majority Democrats in clearing the way for the Senate to hold a full vote on Hagel's confirmation later Tuesday.