The Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday postponed the vote on confirming Chuck Hagel as U.S. defense secretary to allow more time for his nomination to be reviewed.

Committee chairman Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, said in a statement that "The committee's vote on Senator Hagel's nomination has not been scheduled," adding that "I had hoped to hold a vote on the nomination this week, but the committee's review of the nomination is not yet complete."

He went on to say that his intention is to schedule the vote as soon as possible.

Hagel was nominated by President Barack Obama on Jan. 7 to replace Leon Panetta in the top Defense Department post, but he went through a contentious confirmation hearing last week and two Republican senators asked that the vote be delayed to give them more time to review some of the nominee's financial records.

At his confirmation hearing, Hagel - a former Republican senator from Nebraska - faced harsh criticism and questioning from lawmakers from his own party regarding his positions on Israel and Iran as well as on his opposition to the war in Iraq.

The White House, meanwhile, has made clear that it continues to back Hagel and expects that he will be confirmed.

Hagel needs only a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate to be confirmed in the post unless legislators opposed to his appointment resort to a filibuster, in which case he would require the support of 60 senators. EFE