The Senate voted Tuesday to approve former Sen. Chuck Hagel as the next Secretary of Defense, over objections to his previous comments and positions on the Middle East.
On a 58 to 41 vote, four Republicans joined 54 Democrats to confirm Hagel, after a contentious two months of debate that included a filibuster by his own party.
He will take charge of the Pentagon just days before automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that will affect defense programs are set to kick in on Friday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid criticized the GOP for delaying the confirmation.
"Politically motivated delays send a terrible signal to our allies around the world, and they send a terrible signal to tens of thousands of Americans serving in Afghanistan, other parts of the world and ... in the United States," Reid said.