(CNN) -- Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a longtime fixture on the House subcommittee that oversees Pentagon spending, died after complications from gallbladder surgery, according to his office. He was 77.
The Democratic congressman recently underwent laparoscopic surgery to remove his gallbladder.
Murtha was hospitalized in December and had to postpone a hearing with Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the administration's strategy in Afghanistan. The congressman returned to work after a few days in the hospital and helped oversee final passage of the 2010 defense appropriations bill.
Murtha had represented Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District since 1974, making him the chamber's eighth most senior member. According to his biography on the House of Representatives Web site, Murtha was the first Vietnam War combat veteran elected to Congress.