Murtha’s defense of earmarks questioned

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Mr. Murtha sponsored a $39 million earmark for the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) in Johnstown, Pa., which is part of his district.

He faced a House censure in May when he threatened to withhold all pork projects for Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican, in retaliation for an attempt to kill a $23 million earmark for NDIC in an intelligence bill. The motion for censure failed in a party-line vote.

During debate of the defense bill, which passed with the $3 billion of pork intact, Mr. Murtha said the earmarks are vetted scrupulously.

We go over every single earmark, he said. We don”t apologize for them because we think the members know as much about what goes on in their district as [do] the bureaucrats and the Defense Department.

Earmarks by Republicans, which also were challenged by Mr. Flake, included $1 million requested by Rep. C.W. Bill Young for Marine Desalination Systems Inc. in his Florida district.

Mr. Young, the ranking Republican on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, sponsored $117 million in pork.

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