John P. Murtha

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John Murtha previously served the 12th Congressional district of Pennsylvania

John Patrick "Jack" Murtha, Jr. (June 17, 1932 – February 8, 2010) was a U.S. politician from the state of Pennsylvania. He had been a U.S. Representative for the 12th Congressional district of Pennsylvania from February 1974 to his death in February 2010. The district included portions of Cambria, Somerset, Westmoreland, Armstrong, Washington, and Fayette Counties.[1]

Record and controversies

General information about important bills and votes for can be found in Congresspedia's articles on legislation. You can add information you find on how John P. Murtha voted by clicking the "[edit]" link to the right and typing it in. Remember to cite your sources!

Iraq War

Murtha voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 that started the Iraq War.[2]

For more information see the chart of U.S. House of Representatives votes on the Iraq War.

Views on the 2003 Iraq war

Murtha voted for the October 10, 2002 resolution that authorized the use of force against Iraq.[3] However, he later began expressing doubts. On March 17, 2004, when Republicans offered a "War in Iraq Anniversary Resolution" that "affirms that the United States and the world have been made safer with the removal of Saddam Hussein and his regime from power in Iraq," Murtha called for a recorded vote and then voted against it.

On November 17, 2005, he created a firestorm when he called for the immediate redeployment of U.S. troops in Iraq, (H.J. Res. 73) saying, "The U.S. cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It is time to bring them home." [4]

Murtha's comments forced a heated debate on the floor of the House. Republicans led by Duncan Hunter of California, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, responded by proposing their own resolution (H. Res. 572) that called for the immediate withdrawal of forces from Iraq.

Republicans said that this resolution was intended to demonstrate that those calling for immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq are "out of the mainstream." While Hunter's resolution demanded "the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately," Murtha's resolution included the qualifier that the redeployment take place "at the earliest practicable date" and that a quick-reaction U.S. force would remain in the region in case of emergencies.

Rep. Jean Schmidt calls Murtha a "coward," misattributes remark to soldier

The discussion grew heated on November 17, 2005 when during debate on Murtha's resolution, Congresswoman Jean Schmidt, a Republican from Ohio, made a statement attributed to Danny Bubp, an Ohio state representative and Marine Corps reservist, "He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run, Marines never do."

Democrats, seeing Schmidt's remarks as a personal attack against Murtha, brought House business to a halt for ten minutes until Schmidt herself asked and received permission to withdraw her comments. Bubp has since stated that he never mentioned Murtha when making the quoted comment. He added that he would never question the courage of a fellow Marine. Bubp later said, "I don't want to be interjected into this. I wish (Congresswoman Schmidt) never used my name."[5]

Contrary to what Rush Limbaugh and Tucker Carlson have claimed, Bubp was not in Iraq when he spoke to Schmidt, nor has he ever served in the Iraq war.[6]

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign to unseat Murtha

In August 2006, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group of activists that ran ads criticizing Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) during the 2004 U.S. presidential election for exaggerating his Vietnam War record, announced that it would be turning its sights to Murtha’s 2006 congressional reelection campaign. The organizers announced that they would campaign to unseat Murtha in response to his call for troop withdrawal in Iraq. The campaign is planning to feature rallies, TV ads and an aggressive internet campaign. In a news conference, retired Navy Capt. Larry Bailey said, "I will do my best to 'Swift boat' John Murtha."

Few experts believed that Murtha would have much trouble being reelected in 2006.[7]

Abscam bribery scandal

In 1980, Murtha was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Abscam bribery scandal. "Murtha was not indicted in the bribes-for-political-favors probe and ultimately cleared of wrongdoing by the House ethics committee. But his raunchy language and open-ended option to consider a future deal with undercover FBI agents is forever captured on videotape."[8]

Main article: Abscam bribery scandal

Campaign to become House Majority Leader

In the time leading up to the 2006 congressional elections, Murtha announced that he intended to run for the position of House Majority Leader if Democrats retook Congress, which appeared likely at the time. This declaration rankled some within the Democratic ranks as it was seen as presumptuous of a Democratic victory.

Following the Democrats electoral victory, Murtha faced Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Del.) for the position. Hoyer had previously held the position of House Minority Whip, making him the second ranked member of the Democratic leadership after Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi surprised some observers by openly endorsing Murtha for the Majority leader position.[9]


Murtha is known as a dealer of earmarks, trading earmarks for votes on bills. On the floor of the House he occupies a corner, known as the "Murtha corner", where minority Democrats come to ask for earmarks and majority Republicans come to ask for votes for their legislation. Murtha has delivered votes to help Republicans block a number of Democratic initiatives: "to investigate federal contracting fraud in Iraq, to reform lobbying laws, to increase financing for flood control, to add $150 million for veterans' health care and job training, and to exempt middle-class families from the alternative minimum tax." Those who vote with Murtha have been rewarded with a large supply of earmarks for their districts.[10]

In 1989 Murtha became chairman of the Defense Appropriation Subcommittee. There he imposed new rules and procedure that forced Defense appropriations bills to be decided behind closed doors. The practice has continued since Republicans took the majority in 1995.[11]

Main article: earmarks

Kit Murtha

Kit Murtha, John Murtha's younger brother, was employed from 1999 to 2003 by a lobbying firm, KSA Consulting, that specializes in defense contracting and appropriations. From his perch as Ranking Member on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee John Murtha has earmarked millions of dollars to clients of his brother's firm.[12]

Despite Kit Murtha's denials of ever having lobbied his brother the brother's claims to securing funding for Kit's clients have conflicted. In one instance Kit Murtha trumpeted his ability to help secure a grant for AEPTEC Microsystems Inc. to build a business center in John Murtha's district. The congressman's office, however, also released a press release that announced John Murtha's role in securing the funding for the center.[13]

KSA's founder Ken Stalder takes credit for lobbying John Murtha in every case that an earmark or funding has been secured for a client. Stalder insists that Kit Murtha plays no role in lobbying John Murtha.[14]

PMA Group

The PMA Group was founded by Paul Magliochetti, a former staffer on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee where John Murtha is the Ranking Member, and specializes in defense earmarks. The PMA Group is the sixth highest campaign contributor to Murtha's congressional career giving $105,500 since 1989. Murtha has helped secure millions in earmarks for the clients of the PMA Group, which also happen to be some of his top career campaign contributors.[15][16][17] PMA's offices were raided by the FBI in November 2008, as part of an investigation into PMA's "suspicious campaign donations." [18]

In April 2009, despite ongoing investigations, Murtha requested "$134 million in earmarks for his district this year," including requests benefiting four PMA Group clients. The PMA-related earmark requests were for Advanced Acoustic Concepts ($5 million request), Argon ST ($8 million request), MTS Technologies, Inc. ($5 million request) and Planning Systems Inc. ($2.3 million request). [19]

Earmark scuffle over the NDIC

In May 2007, Rep. Murtha berated Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) for voting against appropriations for the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), and responded in kind by threatening funding of a Boeing project in Tiahrt's district. In 2006, the House Government Reform Committee also called for a shutdown of the NDIC, stating the

NDIC was never able to fulfill its original mission of centralizing and coordinating drug intelligence, given its remote location and the unwillingness of the other Federal agencies to contribute significant information,".[20]

President Bush's proposed budget called for closing the center, which employs nearly 400 people in Murtha’s hometown. The budget would reallocate the resources to an El Paso office.[21]

On May 22 2007, The Hill reported that Murtha (D-Pa.), violated House Rules by failing to inform the Ranking Member of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), in writing, of an earmark for the National Drug Intelligence Center. The letter, required by House Rules, was five weeks late and apparently was only sent to the chair of the committee, Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas).[22]

On May 22, 2007, the House spared Murtha (D-Pa.) from a parliamentary punishment by defeating a resolution reprimanding him for threatening to revoke another lawmaker’s earmarks. The final vote was 219-189. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) joined Democrats to table the motion, while Democratic Reps. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) and Jim Cooper (Tenn.) voted with the Republicans.[23]

Earmarks in FY2008 Defense Appropriations bill

In early August 2007, it was revealed that Rep. Murtha, Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, secured the most earmarked money in the FY2008 Defense Appropriations bill. According to the congressional watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, Murtha garnered 48 earmarks totaling $150.5 million. Coming in second was subcommittee ranking member Bill Young (R-Fla.), with 52 earmarks totaling $117.2 million. The $459.6 billion defense appropriations bill, which included an overall 1,337 earmarks, costing $3.07 billion, was expected to be considered on the House floor on August 3. Despite those earmarks, the measure still included less than half of the earmarks included in the previous year's appropriations bill, in keeping with a House commitment to reduce earmarking by 50 percent. However, the earmark total only consisted of earmarks disclosed by the committee, and many undisclosed earmarks may still be present.[24]

Relationship with Concurrent Technologies

Murtha helped arrange funding to launch Concurrent Technologies in 1988. Concurrent began as part of the University of Pittsburgh Trust and was called Metalworking Technology, Inc. at the time. A university official and Murtha reportedly wanted to help the ailing local economy and the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown campus. "The Navy was looking to establish a National Center for Excellence in metalworking Technology. The University of Pittsburgh Trust was an idea fit," Murtha said in a written statement. Metalworking Technology, Inc. was to operate the center.[25]

Howard A. Kuhn, a co-founder and former vice-president of Concurrent was an engineering professor at the time and was originally assigned by the university to write the project proposal with a couple of graduate students. The university then sought Daniel R. DeVos, current chief executive, who had experience in government contracting. Concurrent’s revenue doubled every year at first, rising from $1.5 million to $22 million in 1992, when Concurrent got its current name and dropped its affiliation with the University of Pittsburgh.[26]

Concurrent paid up to $3 million since 1997 to lobbyist PMA Group, a large campaign contributor to Murtha. As the Democrats lost Congress in 1994, Concurrent executives diversified their Capital Hill relationships, Kuhn said. It opened more offices in both Democratic and Republican districts and hired local residents which lead to new sources of earmarks and contracts said a former executive. As of 2007, Concurrent Technologies had $250 million in annual revenues and 1500 employees.[27]

From 2002-2006 Congress directed at least $226 million to Concurrent in earmarks. Additionally, $18 million more had been proposed in 2007 by Reps. Murtha, Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), David Hobson (R-Ohio), and C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.); all members of the House Appropriations Committee with Concurrent offices in their districts. [28]

Peru-United States Free Trade Agreement

In February 2007, Murtha called for revisions of the Peru-United States Free Trade Agreement (PFTA) citing national security concerns. The controversy surrounded provisions similar to the 2006 U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement, when questions concerning the foreign ownership and operation of U.S. ports were asked. The same company (Dubai Ports World), remained a central character in the debate as it had recently purchased 30-year rights to operate a Peruvian port just outside the capital of Lima.[29]

Under the PFTA, this would grant Dubai Ports World the same privileges as Peruvian firms, including protection against ownership discrimination of U.S. ports except in cases of "essential security." Murtha's objections surrounded whether or not the U.S. may exercise the "essential security" clause without the ruling of the World Trade Organization (WTO) or another international tribunal, thus keeping decisions regarding U.S. ports a domestic issue.[30]

Main article: Peru-United States Free Trade Agreement

Honest Leadership and Open Government Act

In 2006, When the Republican majority brought their ethics package, the Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, to the floor, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) offered a motion to recommit with instructions to strike the text of the bill and replace it with the text of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, the Democrat's ethics bill. The motion to recommit failed by three votes, after Rep. Murtha led a group of four Democrats, himself and Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), Martin Sabo (D-Minn.), and Michael Capuanoto (D-Mass.), to vote with the Republicans.

Main article: Prospects for Ethics Reform in the 110th Congress

August 2007 House voting controversy

On the night of August 3, 2007, House Republicans attempted to rebuke Murtha for his actions while presiding over the House that morning. The controversy began the previous night when the presiding chair prematurely called a vote in favor of Democrats. When GOP members attempted to protest the vote the following morning during a regular procedural measure verifying the previous day's record, Murtha, who was then presiding over the House, ignored a Republican request for a record vote on the procedure, a maneuver they were entitled to take since the minority party had a majority of the members in the chamber at that time. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) called on Murtha to explain his ruling, and Murtha responded by saying, "It is up to the chair. Let me tell you this, the vote will show that the approval would be approved by the House, as it has been." After Republicans successfully passed a resolution creating a select committee to investigate the August 2 voting controversy, they attempted to rebuke Murtha for his actions as chair on August 3, but were defeated.

Main article: August 2007 House voting controversy


Background and Military Career

Murtha was born June 17, 1932 in New Martinsville, West Virginia, near the Pennsylvania border, and grew up in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, southeast of Pittsburgh. He left Washington and Jefferson College in 1952 to join the Marines during the Korean War. There he earned the American Spirit Honor Medal. He rose through the ranks to become a drill instructor at Parris Island and was selected for Officer Candidate School at Quantico, Virginia. He then was assigned to the Second Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

After his service, he ran a small carwash business and attended the University of Pittsburgh on the GI Bill, receiving degree in economics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Murtha remained in the Marine Corps Reserves. In 1959, then-Captain Murtha took command of the 34th Special Infantry Company, Marine Corps Reserves, in Johnstown. He remained in the Reserves after his discharge from active duty until he volunteered for service in Vietnam in 1966-67, serving as a battalion staff officer(S-2 Intelligence Section), receiving the Bronze Star with Combat "V" for valor in combat, two Purple Hearts and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. He retired from the Reserves as a colonel in 1990, receiving the Navy Distinguished Service Medal.

Cybercast News Service, a conservative news outlet, has called Murtha's Purple Hearts into question.[31][32] Supporters of Murtha have noted a pattern of conservatives making an issue of the war records of decorated veterans--including John Kerry, Max Cleland and John McCain.[33]

Political career

Murtha was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1968 and served there until 1974, when he ran in a special election for Pennsylvania's 12th District. The seat had come open after 24-year incumbent Republican John Saylor died in October, 1973. Murtha won by 122 votes, making him the first Vietnam veteran to serve in Congress. He won a full term later that year with 58% of the vote and has been reelected 14 times without much diffculty.

Murtha faced tough primary challenges in 1982, 1990 and again in 2002. The 1982 challenge came when the Republican-controlled state legislature redrew the district of fellow Democrat and Vietnam War veteran Donald A. Bailey and incorporated most of Westmoreland County into the 12th District. The 2002 challenge came when the state legislature redrew the district of fellow Democrat Frank Mascara to make it more Republican-friendly, but incorporated a large chunk of Mascara's former territory into Murtha's district. Mascara opted unsuccessfully to run against Murtha in the Democratic primary since he had represented more of the new 12th than Murtha had.

Murtha opposes abortion and generally opposes gun control. He is one of the more hawkish Democrats in the House. However, he is strongly pro-labor.

2006 elections

In 2006, Republicans nominated Diana Lynn Irey to face Murtha in his November 2006 bid for reelection. (See U.S. congressional elections in 2006) Murtha retained his seat.[34]

Money in politics

This section contains links to – and feeds from – money in politics databases. <crpcontribdata>cid=N00001408&cycle=2006</crpcontribdata>

Links to more campaign contribution information for John P. Murtha
from the Center for Responsive Politics' site.
Fundraising profile: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2006 election cycle Career totals

Committees and affiliations


Committee assignments in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

Wikipedia also has an article on John P. Murtha. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. John P. Murtha profile, The Washington Post, accessed January 2011.
  2. Roll call vote, Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.
  3. "Joint Resolution," PBS. October 11, 2002.
  4. Edward Epstein. "Murtha calls for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq," San Fransisco Chronicle. November 17, 2005.
  5. "Limbaugh, Carlson falsely claimed Marine referenced by Rep. Schmidt is serving in Iraq," Media Matters. November 22, 2005.
  6. "Limbaugh, Carlson falsely claimed Marine referenced by Rep. Schmidt is serving in Iraq," Media Matters. November 22, 2005.
  7. Brendan Miniter. "Dems and the Dark Years," Opinion Journal. August 15, 2006.
  8. "Murtha Lashes Out at Dem Leadership Opponent," Fox News. November 14, 2006.
  9. Jonathan Weisman. "Pelosi Endorses Murtha as Next Majority Leader," Washington Post. November 13, 2006
  10. David D. Kirkpatrick. "Trading Votes for Pork Across the House Aisle" New York Times (via October 2, 2006.
  11. David D. Kirkpatrick. "Trading Votes for Pork Across the House Aisle" New York Times (via October 2, 2006.
  12. Ken Silverstein and Richard Simon. "Lobbyist's Brother Guided House Bill," LA Times (via June 13, 2005.
  13. Ken Silverstein and Richard Simon. "Lobbyist's Brother Guided House Bill," LA Times (via June 13, 2005.
  14. Ken Silverstein and Richard Simon. "Lobbyist's Brother Guided House Bill," LA Times (via June 13, 2005.
  15. Roxanna Tiron. "Hill ties reap rewards for top defense firms," The Hill. June 15, 2006.
  16. William Roberts and Charles R. Babcock. "Congress Failure to Curb Projects a Win for Lobbyist," Bloomberg News. September 19, 2006.
  17. Top Contributors for John P. Murtha Center for Responsive Politics.
  18. Paul Kane, "Democrats Stop Effort To Remove Earmarks," Washington Post, March 5, 2009.
  19. Laura Strickler, "Rep. Murtha Wants $134M In Earmarks: Pennsylvania Democrat Asks for $20 Million for Clients of Firm Under Investigation," CBS News, April 3, 2009.
  20. Alexander Bolton, Tiahrt vote on project irks Murtha, "The Hill," May 08, 2007.
  21. Alexander Bolton, Tiahrt vote on project irks Murtha, "The Hill," May 08, 2007.
  22. Susan Crabtree, "Murtha sent earmark letter five weeks after deadline," The Hill, May 22, 2007.
  23. Jonathan E. Kaplan and Jackie Kucinich, "Dems save Murtha a slap," The Hill, May 23, 2007.
  24. Roxana Tiron, "Murtha nabs $150M pork," The Hill, August 3, 2007.
  25. Robert O’Harrow Jr., "A Contractor, Charity and Magnet for Federal Earmarks," The Washington Post, November 2, 2007.
  26. Robert O’Harrow Jr., "A Contractor, Charity and Magnet for Federal Earmarks," The Washington Post, November 2, 2007.
  27. Robert O’Harrow Jr., "A Contractor, Charity and Magnet for Federal Earmarks," The Washington Post, November 2, 2007.
  28. Robert O’Harrow Jr., "A Contractor, Charity and Magnet for Federal Earmarks," The Washington Post, November 2, 2007.
  29. Ian Swanson. "Murtha sees security threat in trade deal," The Hill. February 21, 2007.
  30. Ian Swanson. "Murtha sees security threat in trade deal," The Hill. February 21, 2007.
  31. Marc Morano and Randy Hall. "Murtha's War Hero Status Called Into Question," CNS News. January 13, 2006.
  32. Howard Kurtz and Shailagh Murray. "Web Site Attacks Critic of War," Washington Post. January 14, 2006.
  33. James Boyce. "Should Max Cleland, John Kerry, John McCain, Joe Wilson, John Murtha and the 9/11 Widows Be Allowed to Celebrate the Fourth of July?" Huffington Post. July 4, 2006.
  34. 2006 Congressional Races in Pennsylvania Center for Responsive Politics.

External resources

Local blogs and discussion sites

Anti-Murtha Blogs

External articles

Video Clips

Articles by John P. Murtha

Articles & Commentary about John Murtha