WASHINGTON, D.C. — A spokesman said Democratic Rep. John P. Murtha died Monday at 1:18 p.m. at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Va.
Murtha had been suffering complications from gallbladder surgery. At his bedside was his family.
Murtha, 77, was chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.
The 19-term Democrat was the first Vietnam veteran to serve in Congress. He most recently led the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense spending.
Murtha was a representative for Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District since 1974. This past Saturday, Murtha became Pennsylvania’s longest serving member of Congress.
Murtha was a retired Marine Corps officer and the first combat veteran of the Vietnam War elected to Congress.
The AP, surprisingly, has a pretty detailed description of Murtha’s political life in Congress, including his ethical scandals, unfair Haditha accusations and the fact that he was a master ‘bring home the bacon’ politico for his state. WaPo’s The Fix blog has a write-up on what will happen with Murtha’s seat going forward:
According to state law, the governor has ten days once the vacancy is officially declared to decide on the date for the special election, which can come no sooner than 60 days following that proclamation.
That likely means the special election will be held on May 18, which is the date already set for federal primaries around the state. (Special elections costs the state huge sums of money and it’s likely that Gov. Ed Rendell will choose to go with an already established election day to save some cash.)
I’ll reserve any political commentary I have about Murtha for another day. May he RIP, and his family and friends find comfort and peace in their memories of him.