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DeMint Calls for an End to Murtha Airport Waste

By Carol D. Leonnig
A Republican Senator called on Congress Wednesday to stop the decades-long flow of federal funds to a little-used rural airport named after Congressman John P. Murtha as a textbook example of government waste.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said the John P. Murtha Airport in the congressman's hometown of Johnstown, Pa., rivaled the famous "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska for the amount of federal dollars it had wasted, and offered an amendment to stop an annual $1.4 million subsidy for airport traffic there. The airport has received $200 million in federal funds in the last 15 years. Most of those funds were steered there by Murtha, including more than $25 million for stronger runways to handle heavy military planes, which don't fly there; $8 million for a radar system, which isn't used; and $800,000 in new stimulus funds to repave an alternate runway.

"We're not taking away the $200 million they've already gotten.... We're just saying enough is enough," DeMint said. "If we cannot cut the funding for this little airport in Pennsylvania, named after the congressman that helped get it $200 million ... if we cannot look at the facts in this particular case, and decide as a Congress to stop this, then there is nothing we can cut here, then there is no such thing as waste. "

His amendment, scheduled for a vote on Thursday, has little chance of success, and a similar move was defeated in the House of Representatives by a vote of 263-154 earlier this year. Sens. Arlen Specter and Bob Casey, both Pennsylvania Democrats, defended the airport, noting that 152 other airports in the country receive a similar passenger subsidy to protect air travel to remote areas.

Specter said the runway improvements in Johnstown were necessary to keep area military and National Guard in "a state of constant readiness" in case they had to move quickly during a wartime or domestic terrorist attack.

By Carol D. Leonnig  |  September 16, 2009; 6:17 PM ET
Categories:  Purse Strings  
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The definition of stealing:

1 : to take the property of another wrongfully and especially as a habitual or regular practice

2 : to come or go secretly, unobtrusively, gradually, or unexpectedly

Posted by: Frishoo | September 17, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

I concur with the good Senator from South Carolina; Murtha does present a "text book" example of government waste.

I suggest the harsh light be shined in all corners, and that more waste, fraud, and abuse known to exist in Congress is exposed.

Avoid making the Murtha the poster child and not looking further...there are plenty of other Congressmen who "bring home the bacon" to their districts and, essentially, rob the U.S. treasury. But, Murtha is a darn good place to start house cleaning...what an incorigibly corrupt public official.

That he was ever a Marine makes me puke...

Posted by: skiloypet | September 17, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Hey Harry Reid...DRAIN THE SWAMP! Don't forget to dump yourself in the process.

Posted by: ArlingtonHokie | September 17, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

We have special schools for specific needs children. I propose special prisons for special political power abusers...

The Reid-Jefferson-Murtha-Rangel Minimum amenity Prison in Sheriff Joe's county in Texas. I believe the Barny Frank recreation and social orientation center in the Christopher Dodd Wing would be appropriate.

Posted by: DrMysterious | September 17, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

The definition of Republicans:
1: to take the property of another wrongfully and especially as a habitual or regular practice, often while cruising for boys in mens' rooms

2: to come or go secretly, unobtrusively, gradually, or unexpectedly, with citizens' tax dollars securely hidden in their cronyism, lies, manipulations, fabrications and poorly coordinated cross-dressing outfits.

Posted by: rurik | September 17, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

More half truths from the Republicans. The Johnstown airport in reality handles more than 45,000 flights a year. It is a military airport that is heavily used. The Republicans have zeroed in on it ever since Murtha came out against the war in Iraq, and the media doesn't bother to dig into it to get all the facts. A Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation study determined it was the fifth largest airport in the state and supported more than 1200 jobs. Mr. DeMint may want to get all his facts together before making a fool of himself, but then again, conservatives never let the facts get in the way of a good story, do they?

Posted by: jgindles | September 17, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Mr Murtha says it himself - better than anyone:

"If I'm corrupt, it's because I take care of my district"

Sep 10, 2009 Gary Post Tribune

Posted by: sally62 | September 17, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Whether the airport serves a purpose or not isn't the question. The question we should be asking is, "Is this PORK?" And if it is, then it must go. If it is not pork, then fund it properly through the proper means. Sue-eeeeeeeeee!

Posted by: EvreeMan | September 17, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Whether the airport serves a purpose or not isn't the question. The question we should be asking is, "Is this PORK?" And if it is, then it must go. If it is not pork, then fund it properly through the proper means. Sue-eeeeeeeeee!

Posted by: EvreeMan | September 17, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

It's ALWAYS pork if it's in someone else's district. When it is your own district, though, you refer to it as a benefit. Murtha is doing what his constituents sent him to Washington to do. If your congressman isn't bringing jobs to your district, then vote him out. And yes, the point is that this airport serves a purpose. It is NOT a little used airport, as Mr. DeMint would have you believe, nor is it rural. It serves a metro population of nearly 240,000. The taxpayers spent $20 million on the airport and the airport in turn supports a $220 million economy. Sounds like a good tradeoff to me.

Posted by: jgindles | September 17, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

The key here is to keep an eye on the Senators and Representatives speaking out in support and voting in favor of Murtha-style abuses of tax payer funds. A timely example is the 7 Senators voting to protect ACORN while 83 voted against. This, of course, applies to both sides of the aisle. Hmmmm, it gets curiouser and curiouser.

Posted by: ddnfla | September 17, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse


Scroll down and read the post left by "rurik".

I rest my case.

Posted by: ddnfla | September 17, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

South Carolina isn't having a lot of success with its elected officials lately, but then again S.C. is the home of such flakes as Lyncie Graham and Strom Thurman. But normally its 3 strikes your out. Lets see, The Governor, Rep. Wilson (you lie),and Mr. DeMint yea thats 3. Why doesn't he find something in good old Dixie that needs fixing and leave Pennsylvania to the Pennsylvanians. This is a state that allowed one of its find lawyers to steal over 500K from my family. He was disbarred with the opertunity to re-apply after 3 years. Restitution was never required and we recieve nothing. This is an example of the lawyers in S.C.

Posted by: bundies | September 17, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I'm a Democrat, but I vote based on a candidate's qualifications and past experience. So I guess I'm an Independent. But Murtha needs to go join Ted Stevens in the retirement pool to get rid of this ridiculous pork spending. I just hate to think of what we're paying for their "pensions and healthcare". I'm sure one year for either one is more than I've ever made in one year in my life.

Posted by: milano99_99 | September 17, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Jim DeMint is wasting his time on this one. Sure, this is wrong, but it only taxpayer money being squandered. It is not like it is real money. And if Murtha can bring home enough pork, then his vote in support of "indefensible" Pelosi programs is assured. Isn't amazing that someone who would put on a uniform to defend his nation would sell his soul to keep a seat in Congress. Shame on you Murtha. Shame on you Nancy Pelosi. Shame on you Congress.

Posted by: jimblair1 | September 17, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

We might see South Carolina "pay" for stunt.
Or has Murtha already put the squeeze on South Carolina, maybe as paybacks for "You lie."

Posted by: edlharris | September 17, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

There are a number of small airport around the country that received home land defense dollars, and the recipients used the funds to build big homes around them.

This airport has military posts, so it does need to be able to have military aircraft land there.

Once again we have people making comments, that shows how unimformed they are.

Posted by: melodymg | September 17, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Sure did not here DeMint complaining about the Iraq war as a waste of money or pork barrel, when was all the whining then?

Posted by: melodymg | September 17, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Drain the swamp

I see a gotcha moment come election time for all the Democrats who voted to save a good ol boy Murtha's waste. Again. Rank and file partisan Democrats supporting their own boys waste and corruption over the national good. The stink from Dodds, Wrangel, Frank, and "Fridge" Jefferson will be sure to make a voter retch. Just have to remind em the swamp wasn't drained, it backed up instead.

All those chickens will come home to roost when these clowns have to explain to their constituency why they voted the way they did.

Posted by: Homunculus | September 17, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Here we go again-------Carol Leonning doing her 35th political whack job on Murtha. She just keeps pounding on Murtha but finds nothing at the bottom of the barrel about Murtha - only hearsay.
Find a crime for heaven sake Carol or hang it up and give it a rest. You have been going on since the middle of April and have come up with nothing but 35 allegations and you have to use FIVE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS to do this. WaPo used only TWO reporters to bring Nixon down!~`````

Posted by: AlLemon | September 17, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

It was just announced today that the airport radar system is due to be staffed by the military and will take over air traffic from Cleveland. And the reason it wasn't staffed prior to this? Those who were responsible for staffing it diverted the personnel to war zones. As for no large planes using the airport, look again Mr. DeMint. C-130s use it all the time, and even Mr. DeMint has to know that Air Force 1 makes monthly trips into that same airport. Why? Who knows? There us a lot of speculation, but the point again is that this airport gets a lot more use than Mr. DeMint and the Washington Post like to admit.

Posted by: jgindles | September 18, 2009 8:10 AM | Report abuse

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