In 1917 the U.S. bishops formed the National Catholic War Council (NCWC) to enable U.S. Catholics to contribute funds and commit personnel to provide spiritual care and recreation services to servicemen during World War I. In 1919 Pope Benedict XV urged the hierarchy to join him in working for peace and social justice. In response, the bishops organized the National Catholic Welfare Council in and set up the first Administrative Committee of seven members to handle the Council's business between plenary meetings. The headquarters were established in Washington, DC and a general secretary with some staff was appointed.
In 1922, the word "Conference" replaced "Council" in the organization's title, underlining the fact that it was consultative rather than legislative. At the same time, the National Catholic Welfare Conference was created to address such concerns as education, immigration and social action.
This model continued until 1966 when the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and the United States Catholic Conference (USCC) were established. The NCCB attended to the Church's own affairs in this country. Its committees were exclusively bishops and their secretariats. In USCC, the bishops collaborated with other Catholics to address issues that concern the Church as part of the larger society. Its committees also included lay people, clergy and religious.
On July 1, 2001 the NCCB and the USCC combined to form the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). USCCB continues the work done by both, maintaining the same staff. The bishops themselves form approximately 17 committees, each with its own responsibility.