The 19-term Democrat was the first Vietnam veteran to serve in Congress. He currently leads House Appropriations subcommittee on defense spending. Murtha has been a representative for Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District since 1974.Murtha had been dealing with complications from a gallbladder operation for the past couple of weeks. My condolences to his family and friends.
A former Marine, he became the first Vietnam War combat Veteran elected to the U.S. Congress.
This past Saturday, Murtha became Pennsylvania’s longest serving member of Congress.
A staunch Democrat, he had been one of Nancy Pelosi's biggest backers and was seen as an enforcer. Murtha also had gone on the record calling for an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq (including calling for a redeployment of troops to Okinawa), all while claiming the Iraq mission was a failure.
His political history includes a run-in with the FBI over Abscam (for which he was named an unindicted coconspirator), and had more recently smeared a group of US Marines claiming that they murdered Iraqi civilians at Haditha. Murtha's claims proved to be inaccurate as the military cleared those Marines of the charges and several of the Marines pursued legal action against him. He also caused a stir when he claimed that his own constituents wouldn't vote for Barack Obama for President since he was black.
It will be interesting to see how the House Democrat leadership will adjust to this sad news.