O'Neill, Thomas

O'Neill, (Thomas Phillip, Jr.) “Tip”

(1912–94) U.S. representative; born in Cambridge, Mass. His father, the Cambridge Sewer Commissioner, was an active Democrat and Tip followed in his footsteps, running for the Cambridge City Council while at Boston College. An insurance man when elected to the Massachusetts House (1936–52), he became its youngest Speaker in 1947 before going to the U.S. House of Representatives (1953–1987). John McCormack sponsored his membership in Speaker Rayburn's inner circle meetings and on the powerful Rules Committee. O'Neill pushed liberal legislation while protecting his working class constituents from budget cuts. In 1968 he supported Eugene McCarthy's antiwar candicacy and as majority leader in 1973 he voted to cut off funding of the air war in Vietnam. Elected Speaker (1977–87), he failed to muster an uneasy Democratic alliance of aging Southern committee chairmen and impatient young liberals to resist President Reagan's conservative agenda. After retiring, he appeared in television commercials and cowrote Man of the House; the Life and Political Memoirs of Speaker Tip O'Neill (1987).