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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.