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Panetta’s Confirmation Hearing Next Week

Leon Panetta, President Barack Obama’s pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee next week.

The hearing, tentatively scheduled for Thursday, comes nearly one month after Obama named the former White House chief of staff to the post. The choice initially drew criticism from some Senators, including Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Feinstein, who was taken by surprise when Obama announced Panetta as his CIA pick, had raised concerns about the former California lawmaker’s qualifications for the job. After speaking with Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden, however, Feinstein softened her objections.

Panetta’s nomination is now expected to move smoothly through the Senate confirmation process.

Obama’s nominee to serve as director of national intelligence, retired Navy Adm. Dennis Blair, was unanimously approved by the full Senate last week. A handful of key Obama nominees are still lingering.

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), appointed to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, has yet to testify before the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over the nomination. The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has yet to schedule a confirmation vote on appointed Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who has sparked controversy among Republicans for her support of a bill that would relax union organizing rules. The full Senate will likely vote Monday to approve Eric Holder as attorney general.

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