Obama says expects Hagel to win Senate confirmation

WASHINGTON Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:07pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Thursday called Republican efforts to block confirmation of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary "unprecedented" and said he still expected the former Republican senator to win full Senate approval for the post.

"My expectation and hope is that Chuck Hagel, who richly deserves to get a vote on the floor of the Senate, will be confirmed as our defense secretary," Obama said in a Internet question-and-answer session hosted by Google+. "It's just unfortunate that this kind of politics intrudes at a time when I'm still presiding over a war in Afghanistan."

The U.S. Senate voted narrowly on Thursday to block a vote on Hagel's confirmation but is planning another vote for February 26 - when it is expected to pass. It was unclear whether Obama, when he addressed the issue, was aware of the Senate action, which happened in the middle of the question-and-answer session.

(Reporting By Matt Spetalnick)

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