CAGW Names Rep. John Murtha Porker of the Month

Washington, D.C. - Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Representative John Murtha (D-Pa.) the May Porker of the Month for throwing a temper tantrum and threatening his colleagues over a challenge to a $23 million pet project in the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal year 2008.

Rep. Murtha became infuriated by Rep. Mike Rogers’ (R-Mich.) motion to challenge his earmark for the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) in Johnstown, Pa. According to The Politico, Rep. Murtha, who is not on the Intelligence Committee but does chair the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, confronted Rep. Rogers on the floor of the House and threatened to remove both any of his earmark requests in the defense appropriations bill and any other earmark “now and forever.” Rep. Rogers responded, “This is not the way we do things here and is that supposed to make me afraid of you?” To which Rep. Murtha arrogantly replied, “That’s the way I do it!”

Rep. Murtha also assailed Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) for voting with Rep. Rogers against the NDIC during the Intelligence Committee markup of the bill. Rep. Murtha threatened a Boeing project in Rep. Tiahrt’s district.

Rep. Rogers submitted a resolution charging that Rep. Murtha violated a House rule which forbids members from blocking earmarks based on how a colleague votes. The resolution seeks a formal reprimand from the House. Rep. Rogers said, “This is exactly why Americans are disgusted with out of control federal spending. In order to restore the faith of the American people in Congress, we must do better. We can’t allow members to be threatened and intimidated when they stand up for hard-working taxpayers’ money.”

The Hill reported that Rep. Murtha also skirted the rules by submitting his required earmark certification late. The deadline was March 23, but Rep. Murtha’s letter was only sent on May 1, the day before the bill mark up.

The Murtha outburst exemplifies how earmarks corrupt the legislative process. The NDIC, which is funded through the Drug Enforcement Administration, was cited last year by the House Government Reform Committee as “an expensive and duplicative use of scarce federal drug enforcement resources.” CAGW’s 2007 Prime Cuts and the President’s budget both recommended that the NDIC should be eliminated. But it will probably be funded, not based on merit, but out of fear of Rep. Murtha’s power as an appropriations cardinal.

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