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WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama's choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security Department is one step closer to joining the Cabinet after winning support from a Senate committee.

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee approved Jeh (JAY) Johnson's nomination in a voice vote Wednesday.

The former top lawyer at the Pentagon would succeed Janet Napolitano if approved by the full Senate. A final vote has not yet been scheduled.

During his confirmation hearing, Johnson told senators his first priority as secretary would be to fill a host of leadership vacancies in the sprawling department.

Nearly 40 percent of the department's top positions are vacant.

If confirmed, Johnson would be the department's fourth secretary.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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