Path to Power
Young was born in 1930 in a Pennsylvania coal town where he and his younger brother were raised by their mother. Young lived with his family in a converted toolshed-with no water or electricity-until he was six and it washed away in the river. When Young was a teenager, a doctor prescribed a move to Florida to treat Young's mother's illnesses and exhaustion. The family moved south, where Young dropped out of high school supported the family by hauling concrete and mixing mortar.,
In his 20s, Young became an insurance salesman, eventually running a successful agency of his own. He also met then-Rep. William Cramer (R-Fla.), the first member of his party to represent Florida since Reconstruction, becoming his protege and later working in Cramer's office. Together, the two men along with Cramer's aide Jack Insco, would be the backbone of the "ICY Machine," a political operation that takes its names from its founding members initials and that sowed the seeds for the growth of Republican Party in Pinellas County and, in many ways, the state of Florida.
The Sunshine State Republican is one of the more independent members of his parties, voting with the GOP 89.7 percent of the time during the 110th Congress. Among his more prominent dissent votes was an unsuccessful 2008 override of President Bush's veto of the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
As chairman of the all-powerful House Appropriations Committee - with 13 subcommittees, all with chairman called "cardinals" to denote their power - Young often served as a champion of House institutional prerogatives versus the anti-establishment ideas of some of his more junior colleagues and the Bush White House.
Young had a very close relationship with the late Defense Appropriations subcommittee chair John Murtha (D-Pa.) The two were close friends for more than 30 years and worked together in recent decades as the most senior members on the Defense Appropriations subcommittee. Though Murtha led his party's effort to leave Iraq in recent years, the two often agreed on defense spending levels.