The Campaign Spot

Appropriations Committee Democrats to Murtha: You’re Embarrassing Us

Apparently Rep. John Murtha’s methods of dispersing earmarks to friends and donors have gotten to be too much, even for Democrats on the Appropriations Committee:

In a private meeting with the chairman of the House appropriations committee, Mr. Murtha, the unofficial leader of the “old bulls” who oversee the subcommittees, was forced to accept a series of new restrictions on his authority to grant earmarks, Democratic aides briefed on the meeting said. In previous weeks he had already acquiesced to another steep cut in the volume of earmarks he dispenses, down by half this year from a few years ago. He had also submitted to new disclosure requirements, including public hearings, that cramp his ability to cut last-minute deals.

Now Mr. Murtha also agreed to accept a new rule requiring competitive bidding on earmarked contracts. Furthermore, one of his usual lieutenants — Representative Peter J. Visclosky, Democrat of Indiana and member of the defense subcommittee who is chairman of the energy and water panel — unexpectedly switched sides to back the new restrictions, perhaps because he too is under new scrutiny for his ties to the PMA Group.

Democracy 21 is expected to ask the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to investigate Murtha later this week. We’ll see where that goes.

Of course, that committee recently decided that Rep. Zack Space’s driving without a license and going 65 mph in a 50 zone required no further action, not even a letter of reprimand.