Edward P. Boland, 90, a Massachusetts Democrat who served in the House of Representatives from 1953 until retiring in 1989, died of a heart ailment Nov. 4 at a hospital in his home district of Springfield, Mass. He had been hospitalized since fracturing his hip Oct. 11.
He became the No. 2 Democrat on the powerful Committee on Appropriations and chaired the newly formed House Select Committee on Intelligence from 1977 to 1985.
Much of his success has been attributed to his friendship with then-Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill (D-Mass.). The two shared a Washington apartment for 24 years and were called "the odd couple" for their contrasting looks and personalities. Where O'Neill was brash, burly, tall and sloppy, Mr. Boland was quiet, short, trim and was said to do the housekeeping. A bachelor until 1973, Mr. Boland brought to the apartment his only possessions, a toaster and a coffee pot.
"I knew of nobody more trustworthy than Eddie," O'Neill told The Washington Post, adding that he was "of the greatest sincerity, dedicated to the country and dedicated to keeping his mouth shut."
In 1971, he and O'Neill were considered candidates for majority leader when Carl Albert (Okla.) became speaker, but neither could decide who should run for Albert's old position and who should be campaign manager. So Mr. Boland supported Morris Udall (Ariz.) and O'Neill backed the eventual winner, Hale Boggs (La.), prompting O'Neill's rise.
When O'Neill became speaker in 1977, he appointed his friend to the intelligence committee.
Known for rarely granting interviews, Mr. Boland became a reluctant public figure in the 1980s for a series of amendments bearing his name that were intended to curtail U.S. funding of efforts to overthrow leftist Central American regimes, such as the Sandinistas of Nicaragua.
Those amendments played a direct role in the Iran-Contra scandal of 1987, in which U.S. officials covertly sold arms to Iran to win the release of U.S. hostages in the Middle East and used some of the profits to support Nicaraguan rebels known as the contras.
As news dispatches and Mr. Boland's own sources reported that the Central Intelligence Agency was mining Nicaraguan harbors and promoting methods to "neutralize" the Sandinista leadership of the country, he wrote an amendment in 1984 ending all aid to the contras.
"The secret war hasn't brought Central America closer to peace or Nicaragua closer to democracy," he said on the House floor. "What it does is provide the Sandinistas with the perfect excuse to foist unfair elections, a huge army, censorship and the draft on the Nicaraguan people."
President Ronald Reagan later said the amendments did not apply to him because they denied him his constitutional right to conduct foreign policy.
Mr. Boland's amendments expired in 1986, but he continued to play a role the next year as a member of the Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran. That committee and its Senate equivalent conducted nationally televised hearings.
Edward Patrick Boland, a Springfield native and resident, was born to Irish immigrants and grew up in a working-class neighborhood known as "Hungry Hill." He attended the Bay Path Institute business school in Springfield and Boston College law school. He was a state representative from 1934 to 1940, when he was elected Hampden County (Mass.) register of deeds. He served in the Army in the Pacific during World War II.
He ran for Congress to fill an open seat in 1952. He supported President Lyndon B. Johnson's "Great Society" social programs and worked to increase spending for public housing, NASA and the National Science Foundation.
Rep. Boland grew so unbeatable in his district that Republican opposition, when there was any, was often a token gesture. He reportedly spent less than $50 for many of his campaigns.
Former senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), who was vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told The Post, "He is one of those quiet men of the House, who in fact make it work. The office is his vocation. There is none other."
Survivors include his wife, Mary Egan Boland of Springfield; four children, Edward P. Boland Jr. of Brooklyn, N.Y., Michael Boland of Northampton, Mass., and Martha Boland and Kathleen Boland, both of Brighton, Mass.