Rep. John Murtha, a Vietnam veteran who became one of the most powerful members of the House serving four decades representing western Pennsylvania, has died at 77.Murtha was the longest serving member of the Pennsylvania delegation — a milestone he passed just this past Saturday. He had been hospitalized in recent weeks with a gall bladder infection and died Monday afternoon at Virginia Hospital Center at 1:18 p.m., his office said in a statement.Murtha was chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, and from that perch he controlled billions in Pentagon spending and was one of the most respected voices on military policy. Murtha was well liked on both sides of the aisle, often holding court in the back of the House chamber in what was known as “Murtha’s Corner.”Critics derided Murtha as an unreformed pork barrel spender, and Murtha was unapologetic about steering federal money to his home district, a region of Pennsylvania hard hit by the loss of coal and steel jobs through the 1970s and '80s.He was very close to Speaker Nancy Pelosi D-Calif., both having served on the Appropriations Committee. Pelosi supported Murtha for majority leader in 2006 over Steny Hoyer of Maryland, but Hoyer prevailed.Murtha made a national name for himself in 2005 by becoming one of the more hawkish members of the Democratic caucus to revoke his support of the Iraq war, which he had voted for in 2002. It was Murtha’s change of heart that inspired many Democrats to follow, marking a turning point in public support for the Iraq war.
John Murtha dies at 77 – POLITICO.com
Jacob Laksin is a senior writer for Front Page Magazine. He is co-author, with David Horowitz, of The New Leviathan (Crown Forum, 2012), and One-Party Classroom (Crown Forum, 2009). Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @jlaksin.