Air Force General Michael Hayden has received backing from the Senate Intelligence Committee as the new head of the CIA.
Gen Hayden is currently deputy director of national intelligence
President Bush's nominee for the post, Gen Hayden, was approved by 12 votes to three by the Republican-led committee.
He must now face a full Senate hearing and if successful could be sworn in by the end of next week.
However, critics have raised concerns at putting a military man in charge of a civilian agency.
President Bush described General Hayden, who is the former head of the National Security Agency (NSA), as "the right man to lead the CIA at a critical moment".
If confirmed, General Hayden, 61, will replace Porter Goss who resigned unexpectedly as head of the CIA earlier this month.
Lawmakers have expressed concern at putting a military man in charge of a civilian agency, and civil rights groups are also raising objections.
The American Civil Liberties Union wants the Senate to question General Hayden about the NSA's programme of warrantless domestic surveillance.
Some Congress members, including Republicans, are concerned about the prospect of a general leading the CIA, saying it could give the Pentagon too much influence in intelligence gathering.