The United States House Committee on Appropriations is one of the most powerful of Congressional committees because of its responsibility of money expenditures. The chairs of its subcommittees have been dubbed the “College of Cardinals,” after the influential body of the Catholic Church.
Edwin A. Lahey (1902-1969), who covered Washington for the Chicago (IL) Daily News and Knight Newspapers, was credited (see October 1974 citation below) with first calling the Appropriations Committee the “College of Cardinals.” Newspaper columnist Mary McCrory (see July 1969 and January 1989 citations below) wrote that Ed Lahey dubbed the Gridiron Club “The College of Cardinals.”
Wikipedia: United States House Committee on Appropriations
The Committee on Appropriations is a committee of the United States House of Representatives. It is in charge of setting the specific expenditures of money by the government of the United States. As such, it is one of the most powerful of the committees, and its members are seen as influential.
Wikipedia: College of Cardinals
The College of Cardinals is the body of all cardinals of the Catholic Church.
A function of the college is to advise the pope about church matters when he summons them to an ordinary consistory. It also convenes on the death or abdication of a pope as a papal conclave to elect a successor. The college has no ruling power except during the sede vacante (papal vacancy) period, and even then its powers are extremely limited by the terms of the current law, which is laid down in the Apostolic constitution Universi Dominici Gregis and the Fundamental Law of Vatican City State.
cardinal n. a chairman of any subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee.
Etymological Note: Probably from the similarity to the College of Cardinals at the Vatican, a body of men who collectively wield great power and influence.
1989 Dan Morgan Washington Post (June 30) “In College of ‘Cardinals,’ A Summer of Frustration” p. A1: This is turning into a difficult summer for the 13 chairmen of the House Appropriations subcommittees, the powerful legislators known reverentially on Capitol Hill as “the cardinals.”
1995 James V. Grimaldi Orange County Register (California) (Dec. 12) “Packard now backs Bosnia plan” p. A1: As a so-called “cardinal,” or appropriations subcommittee chairman, Packard will influence the debate, said Dan Michaelis, spokesman for Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.
1997 Peter Hardin Richmond Times-Dispatch (Va.) (Jan. 8) “‘Safe’ Wolf Was ‘Present’ ” p. A8: The 57-year-old Wolf is a so-called cardinal on Capitol Hill, the term for chairmen of subcommittees of the House Appropriations Committee.
18 July 1969, Boston (MA) Globe, “Obituaries: Edwin A. Lahey, at 67—Newsman With a Flair” by Louis Lyons, pg. 30:
Edwin A. Lahey is dead at 67 in Washington where he was long chief correspondent of the Chicago Daily News and the Knight Newspapers.
25 July 1969, Omaha (NE) World-Herald, “Irreplaceable: Tough Reporter Had Soft Heart” by Mary McGrory, pg. 22, col. 2:
In a city of replaceable men, Ed Lahey was irreplaceable. He was the only one of his kind.
As a matter of principle, he boycotted background press conferences and private dinners with secretaries of state. He joined the Gridiron Club, one of his rare gestures to the establishment, and always referred to it as “the College of Cardinals.”
Congress and the Nation:
A review of government and politics in the postwar years
By Congressional Quarterly, inc.
Washington, DC: CQ Press
College of Cardinals — A popular term for the subcommittee chairmen of the appropriations committees, reflecting their influence over appropriation measures. The chairmen of the full appropriations committees are sometimes referred to as popes.
Citizens Look at Congress
By Sarah Glazer; Ralph Nader Congress Project.
Washington, DC: Grossman Publishers
Holders of the Appripriations subcommittee chairmanships have been designated Congress’s “College of Cardinals.”
The Deep South States of America;
People, Politics, and Power in the Seven Deep South States
By Neal R. Peirce
New York, NY: Norton
As one of the 13 Appropriations subcommittee chairmen — sometimes known as the “College of Cardinals” — Whitten not only reviews and decides on, line by line, $7 billion each year in federal appropriations for agriculture, but also, since 1971, funds for virtually all government agencies responsible for environmental control and consumer protection.
27 October 1974, Seattle (WA) Daily Times, “Julia Butler Hansen: She ends 14 years in Congress” by Frank Hewlett, magazine, pg. 4, col. 1:
The late Ed Lahey of The Chicago Daily News once wrote that in Congress the chairmen of the appropriations subcommittees have power comparable to that of members of the College of Cardinals in the Catholic Church. That’s the reason to this day some of the chairmen are addressed as “Cardinal.”
7 January 1975, Seattle (WA) Daily Times, “Chicagoan to replace Mrs. Hansen,” pg. 2, col. 5:
The chairmen of the 13 Appropriations Committee subcommittees are among the most powerful congressmen. Dubbed the College of Cardinals, they function autonomously, allocating federal funds and sometimes even attaching substantive conditions to money bills.
Powers of Congress
By Congressional Quarterly, inc.
Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly
Rep. David R. Obey (D Wis.), an Appropriations member who has been the prime mover in reforming the panel, called the subcommittee changes “absolutely crucial” to loosening the control of conservative Chairman George Mahon (D Texas) “and the college of cardinals [the conservative subcommittee chairmen]” over the committee.
Google News Archive
6 February 1978, Sumter (SC) Daily Item, “Dan Flood: Colorful, Powerful Congressman” by Chris Robert (Associated Press Writer), pg. 3A, col. 3:
As one of 13 Appropriation Committee subchairman—a group so strong they are known on the Hill as the College of Cardinals—he (Daniel J. Flood, D-PA—ed.) has near life-and-death power over the federal budget.
Google News Archive
25 February 1978, Albany (GA) Herald, “Dubious Deals of Mr. Flood” by Jack Anderson, pg. 4A, col. 7:
At age 74, he is a 30-year House veteran and a member of its College of Cardinals. This is the nickname given to the 13 powerful Appropriations subcommittee chairmen.
The Private World of Congress
By Rochelle Jones and Peter Woll
New York, NY: Free Press
Appropriations in the Senate is not considered to be a College of Cardinals as it is in the House, but it is still the most powerful committee in the body.
9 January 1989, Trenton (NJ) Evening Times, “Press to Nixon: All has been forgiven” by Mary McGrory, pg. A8, col. 2:
The Gridiron Club, an organization so elitest that my old friend Ed Lahey used to call it “The College of Cardinals,” had a meeting the other day.
Seattle (WA) Post-Intelligencer
Murray an unlikely member of Senate ‘college of cardinals’
By JOEL CONNELLY, SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF
Published 10:00 p.m., Monday, April 13, 2009
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who flew out from Chicago, joked about Murray’s position as one of the Senate’s “college of cardinals” as chair of Appropriations’ transportation subcommittee.
The College of Hypocritical Big Government Cardinals
Posted by Daniel Horowitz (Diary)
Wednesday, November 30th at 11:46AM EST
There is an old adage in Washington that describes the political system as consisting of three political parties; Democrats, Republicans, and Appropriators. The Appropriations Subcommittee chairmen, often referred to as the “College of Cardinals,” usually agree to concoct legislation that fuses the worst elements of the evil and stupid parties, resulting in something worse than a pure Democrat proposal.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Thursday, December 01, 2011 • Permalink