Lawmakers react to Rep. John Murtha's death

Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) died on Monday at the age of 77.

Murtha, who was first elected in 1974, died after having been hospitalized for complications from gall bladder surgery.

During his time in Congress, Murtha rose to become the chairman of the Defense subcommittee on the House Appropriations Committee, on which he helped direct a number of military spending programs.

Find different lawmakers and leaders' statements on Murtha's passing below, as they come in.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), said:

Today I lost a good friend. I had the honor and privilege to work with Jack Murtha.  He was the Chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and I was his Senate counterpart. He was a great patriot and superb legislator. I will miss him, and I am certain his constituents will too. It is with a heavy heart that I extend my condolences to his wife Joyce, and their children and grandchildren.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.):

Today, with the passing of Jack Murtha, America lost a great patriot.  He served our country on the battlefield winning two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star.  He served his country in his community winning the hearts of his constituents and served in the Congress winning the respect of his colleagues.

“On Saturday, he became the longest-serving Member of Congress from Pennsylvania, and one of the most distinguished.  He is well-recognized as a champion of our national security; always putting the troops and their families first.  He quietly and regularly visited our men and women serving our country who were injured to assess their needs and offer them thanks and encouragement.  As proud Marine, he was always Semper Fi!

“The nation saw his courage writ large when he spoke out against the military engagement in Iraq – winning him the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

“Jack was also a hero in advancing scientific research to fight breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS.  He measured the strength of our country by our military might and also by the well-being of the American people.

“San Francisco lost a good friend in Jack Murtha.  His leadership as Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee was essential in turning the Presidio from post to park.

“Dedicated to God and Country, and devoted to Joyce and their family, Jack Murtha was a giant.  All who served with him were honored to call him colleague.  I was privileged to call him friend.

“I hope that is a comfort to Joyce; their children, Donna Sue, John and Patrick; and their grandchildren that so many people mourn their loss and are praying for them at this very sad time.” 


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said:

I am deeply saddened by the loss of my colleague Jack Murtha.  I send my condolences to his wife, Joyce, the entire Murtha family and the people of the 12th Congressional district in Pennsylvania as they grieve his passing.

The scores of friends and colleagues who worked with Jack during his 36 years of service in Congress will miss the tenacity and passion that he brought to his job every day.  Before his time in Congress, Jack served our nation admirably in Vietnam and holds the distinction of being the first Vietnam Veteran elected to the House of Representatives.   The American people are safer because of the military experience that Jack Murtha brought to Congress.  He will be sorely missed.

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), said:

I am deeply saddened to lose my dear friend and colleague Jack Murtha.  He was a public servant in every sense of the word and his passing is a great loss to all of Pennsylvania.  Joan and my thoughts are with his wife, Joyce, and their children.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chairman of the DCCC, said:

Congressman Murtha dedicated his life to serving the nation he loved. As a Marine who wore the uniform for 37 years, Congressman Murtha courageously fought inVietnam. As Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Congressman Murtha worked to ensure that our men and women in uniform and their families had the support and resources they deserve.
 
“In 2005, Congressman Murtha inspired a new generation by taking up the fight to end the Iraq War. His leadership will be missed, but his place in history is secured as the first combat veteran of the Vietnam War elected to Congress. Three days ago on February 5th, 2010, he became the longest serving Member of Congress in the history of Pennsylvania.
 
“On behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, I extend my deepest condolences to Congressman Murtha’s wife Joyce, their children, their grandchildren, and his constituents in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District. I hope it is of some comfort that the thoughts and prayers of so many are with them at this difficult time.

 
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio)
said:

Today, our nation has lost a decorated veteran and the House of Representatives has lost one of its own.  I was saddened to hear of John Murtha’s passing, and my thoughts and prayers are with his friends and loved ones.  I also want to express my condolences to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who valued Congressman Murtha’s advice and friendship.  He will be missed.


House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) said:

Jack Murtha was the first Vietnam veteran to serve in Congress and he was incredibly effective in his service in the House.  He understood the misery of war. Every person who serves in the military has lost an advocate and a good friend today.

My wife Joan and I extend our sympathy and prayers to his wife Joyce, and the entire Murtha family.

Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) said:

Words cannot describe the loss my wife Arlene and I feel for my dear friend, Jack Murtha. Jack and I served together for over 30 years, and I have never seen a more valiant defender of the men and women of our armed forces, nor a more steadfast advocate for our country’s unequaled national defense. Jack was a true patriot, and the Congress will be a much lesser place without him. His passing is truly a cause for great sadness, and our hearts go out his family, and his second family – his Congressional staff and the Members and staff of the Appropriations Committee.

House Administration Committee Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.) said:

The people of Pennsylvania, the members of the United States Congress and all Americans should be saddened by the news that my good friend Jack Murtha died suddenly this afternoon.  Jack’s shoes will not be filled, because he was a one of kind public servant and a rare breed of American whose love of country ran as deep as anyone I know.

For most people, Jack was most notably the first Vietnam Veteran to run successfully to Congress.  But more remarkably and less widely covered was how after running on his convictions as a young vet with something to say, he spent the next four decades governing with the true heart of a soldier and never abandoning the principles that drove him into public office.

There is no smarter, tougher, kinder, funnier or more revered Member of the House of Representatives, and I will miss seeing him each time I walk on the floor.

Before Congress adjourned each week I would kiss my friend Jack on the cheek and we would share a smile over the week’s stories and the variety of issues we had to look forward to in the coming days.  Sadly, the last time we exchanged our friendly goodbyes was our last goodbye. 

I will miss my friend and mentor more than words can describe. My wife, Debbie and I extend our most sincere sympathies to the Murtha family and join the millions of Americans who will feel his absence.


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