Veteran Lawmaker Murtha Dies

02.09.10 | FL News Team

Veteran Congressman John Murtha has died following complications from gall bladder surgery. The colorful 77-year-old Pennsylvania Democrat chaired a defense appropriations subcommittee and wielded considerable influence over military spending. The hawkish Murtha broke with former President George W. Bush over the Iraq war and became a leading Democratic critic of the war. After Democrats won control of the House in 2006, Murtha, a close ally of new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, made a run for Majority Leader, but lost to Maryland's Steny Hoyer.

 John Murtha was first elected to the House in 1974. He was a decorated Marine and the first Vietnam War veteran to be elected to the U.S. House. In the early 1980s, Murtha survived an investigation into his alleged role in the Abscam bribery scandal. He also survived years of complaints from critics who accused him of directing disproportionate amounts of federal money to his congressional district in southwestern Pennsylvania. Unresolved questions were also raised about how the money was directed and alleged links between federal dollars and key campaign contributors.