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Murtha accused of rules violation

Murtha accused of rules violation

Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) threatened to deny any further spending projects to a Republican who challenged him over an earmark last week, the GOP is charging – a potential violation of House rules that could cause a spike in partisan tensions.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who questioned money that Murtha inserted into an intelligence bill last week, turned the tables Thursday night by saying he would call for Murtha to be reprimanded for violating House rules.

Rogers plans to insert a transcript of their exchange in the Congressional Record to document the potential violation. His resolution will also require a House vote to reprimand Murtha for his comments, according to a draft received by The Politico. Rogers is expected to file it on Monday.
It does not call for an investigation by the Ethics Committee.
'The way I do it'
According to the draft resolution, Murtha shouted at and chastised Rogers on the House floor Thursday for offering a motion last week to challenge $23 million Murtha requested in an intelligence bill.

Murtha had requested the money to prevent the administration from shuttering the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown, Pa., which is part of Murtha’s district.

“I hope you don’t have any earmarks in the defense appropriations bills because they are gone, and you will not get any earmarks now and forever,” Murtha told Rogers, according to the draft transcript given to The Politico.

“This is not the way we do things here – and is that supposed to make me afraid of you?” Rogers replied.

“That’s the way I do it,” Murtha said.

The showdown occurred on the Republican side of the aisle, in the so-called Ohio Corner, in front of numerous GOP lawmakers who witnessed the episode, one member present said.
Murtha could not immediately be reached for comment.
If it took place as alleged, Murtha’s tirade could violate House rules, which forbid members from blocking earmarks based on how a colleague votes.

The Rogers resolution charges that “Mr. Murtha has been guilty of a violation of the Code of Official Conduct and merits the reprimand of the House for the same.”
This shouting match follows a similar outburst Murtha directed at Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) last week.
Murtha yelled at Tiahrt on the House floor for voting in favor of Rogers’s motion, members and aides familiar with the incident said.
The overall controversy stems from a disagreement between Murtha and the Bush administration about closing the National Drug Intelligence Center, an intelligence gathering facility supervised by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
President Bush’s budget cut $23 million from the budget to force the agency to close the office, which has received repeated low marks from several federal review boards.
Key player on Iraq
Murtha has become a central figure in the fight between the White House and congressional Democrats over the war in Iraq. He chairs the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, making him a powerful figure on military issues with significant sway in Congress and at the Pentagon.
In that capacity, he also oversees the largest spending bill moving through Congress, including thousands of special projects.
“This is exactly why Americans are disgusted with out of control federal spending,” Rogers said in a statement.
“In order to restore the faith of the American people in Congress, we must do better," he said. "We can’t allow members to be threatened and intimidated when they stand up for hard-working taxpayers’ money.”
In a statement calling the confrontation a “flagrant [incident] of intimidation,” House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said, “This egregious action is not only beneath the dignity of this institution, it constitutes a violation of House rules, which preclude members from conditioning earmarks on another member’s vote, and the House should reprimand Murtha for his conduct.”
Update: On Friday, Murtha said in a statement: “The committee and staff give every Democrat and Republican the same consideration, we have extensive hearings and every request is given careful consideration. We will continue to do just that.”

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