The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday approved the nomination of former Florida Gov. Bob Martinez to become the new director of federal drug policy.

The vote was 11-3, with three Democratic senators - Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, Paul Simon of Illinois and Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio - casting votes against the nomination.Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Martinez "demonstrated a lot of commitment to the war on drugs."

Sen. Hank Brown, R-Colo., said the former Florida governor was "exceptionally well-qualified" to be director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a post vacated when William Bennett resigned last November.

But Kennedy said "Our national drug strategy is fundamentally flawed." He said Martinez's "record in Florida is a case study of the reasons for that failure, and if he is confirmed as director, our ineffective national policy will be more difficult to repair."

Kennedy said the current strategy "is failing because it's hopelessly lopsided" in favor of law enforcement. He said Martinez overemphasized tough drug laws in Florida.