House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday he expects Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) to take over the chairmanship of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense vacated by the death Monday of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.). Hoyer called Dicks "an extraordinarily able Member of Congress" with decades of experience on the committee under Murtha. "I think he will be able to fill that role," Hoyer said. Hoyer said that the special election to replace Murtha in Congress could take place May 18 — the same day as Pennsylvania's regularly scheduled primaries — and that Democrats would fight hard to retain the seat. Hoyer also praised Murtha for his long tenure, in particular his service to his constituents in a hard-hit portion of Pennsylvania. "He worked very hard on their behalf," Hoyer said.