Congressman John Murtha has died at 77, following complications from gallbladder surgery. His office just released the following statement:
Congressman John P. Murtha (PA-12) passed away peacefully this afternoon at 1:18 p.m. at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, VA. At his bedside was his family.
Murtha, 77, was Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.
First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in February of 1974, Murtha dedicated his life to serving his country both in the military and in the halls of Congress. A former Marine, he became the first Vietnam War combat Veteran elected to the U.S. Congress.
This past Saturday, February 6, 2010, Murtha became Pennsylvania's longest serving Member of Congress.
Murtha, who initially supported the invasion of Iraq, became an outspoken critic of the war. In November 2005 the Congressman called for a troop withdrawal, stating, "U.S. and coalition troops have done all they can ... it's time for a change in direction."
Murtha, who chaired the defense appropriations committee, also had concerns about Obama's plans for the war Afghanistan. "I get a fairly optimistic position from the people on the ground. They say, 'We can do this.' And maybe they can." said Murtha in December
, after Obama called for an additional 30,000 troops. "But before we start funding, I want to see -- I want to convince myself and the subcommittee that we really have something we can achieve."