The Senate Intelligence Committee approved his nomination at a meeting on Thursday. The panel will now send his nomination to the full Senate, where he is expected to be easily confirmed.

"I am pleased the committee quickly approved the nomination of the nation's first national intelligence director," committee chairman Senator Pat Roberts said.

"Ambassador Negroponte has a demonstrated record as an outstanding manager and leader and has a knowledgeable and capable deputy in General Hayden," he added.

The new post of director of national intelligence was recommended by the commission that investigated the September 11 attacks on the United States.

If confirmed by the full Senate, Negroponte will oversee some 15 intelligence agencies and control an annual budget estimated at about $40 billion and encompassing some 100,000 civilian and military employees.