Senate Approves Ashton Carter to Lead Pentagon

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The Senate on Thursday easily approved President Barack Obama’s pick to head the Pentagon, confirming the fourth secretary of defense in six years.

In a 93 to 5 vote, the Senate approved Ashton Carter to head the Department of Defense to help lead the U.S. response to Islamic extremists, Russian-back militants in Ukraine, and an end to the war in Afghanistan.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said before that vote that he would support Carter, but he expects him “to speak truth to power.”

Carter has promised to deliver candid advice to the White House, and in his confirmation hearing said he favors changing the Obama administration’s currently policy of not providing lethal aid to Ukraine.

He told the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month that defeating ISIS would be his top priority.

"It's important that when they get defeated they stay defeated," he said.

Carter will replace Chuck Hagel, who abruptly announced his resignation last November after less than two years leading the Department of Defense.

"Ash Carter served as a key leader of our national security team in the first years of my presidency, and with his overwhelming bipartisan confirmation by the Senate today, I'm proud to welcome him back as our next Secretary of Defense," the president said in a statement.

-- Andrew Rafferty