Former Speaker Tom Foley Dies

President Bill Clinton (L) speaks to U.S. Speaker of the House Tom Foley (R) after a press conference 04 August 1993 on Capitol Hill.
National Journal
Billy House
Oct. 18, 2013, 9:22 a.m.

Thomas Fo­ley, the House speak­er from 1989 to 1994 and later an am­bas­sad­or to Ja­pan, died Fri­day morn­ing of stroke-re­lated com­plic­a­tions. He was 84.

“With his passing, the House loses one of its most de­voted ser­vants and the coun­try loses a great states­man,” House Speak­er John Boehner said in a state­ment.

The Demo­crat from Spokane, Wash., was first elec­ted to the House in 1964 and rose through the ranks over 15 terms to be­come chair­man of the House Ag­ri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee, ma­jor­ity whip, and ma­jor­ity lead­er. In June 1989, he be­came the na­tion’s 57th House speak­er.

But, in a rare event, he was de­feated for elec­tion to his House seat in 1994 in a land­slide that capped that year’s “Re­pub­lic­an Re­volu­tion,” which led to the in­stall­a­tion of Newt Gin­grich as speak­er. Fo­ley, who lost his seat to Re­pub­lic­an George Ner­th­er­cutt, was the first speak­er of the House since the Civil War to lose a bid for reelec­tion.

In his cam­paign against Fo­ley, Neth­er­cutt cap­it­al­ized on a pop­u­list theme, prom­ising to serve no more than three terms in the House, a prom­ise he would ul­ti­mately break. But the theme was a pop­u­lar one in 1994. The mes­sage took hold in part be­cause it came just two years after Wash­ing­ton voters ap­proved a bal­lot meas­ure lim­it­ing terms for state of­fi­cials ““ in­clud­ing fed­er­al rep­res­ent­at­ives. Fo­ley, al­lied with the League of Wo­men Voters and oth­ers, filed a chal­lenge and won, but Neth­er­cutt was able to play up Fo­ley’s role in over­turn­ing that meas­ure.

House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi, her­self a former speak­er who vis­ited Fo­ley at a hos­pice this week, called him “a quint­es­sen­tial cham­pi­on of the com­mon good.”

“In his years lead­ing the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives, Speak­er Fo­ley’s un­rivaled abil­ity to build con­sensus and find com­mon ground earned him genu­ine re­spect on both sides of the aisle. The year I took of­fice, he se­cured a much-needed budget com­prom­ise that re­stored pub­lic faith in our fin­an­cial se­cur­ity and con­fid­ence in Con­gress,” she re­called.

House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence Chair Cathy Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers, a Re­pub­lic­an from Wash­ing­ton state, said Fo­ley will be re­membered “as one of our state’s gi­ants.”

“East­ern Wash­ing­ton ag­ri­cul­ture and wheat farm­ers still be­ne­fit today from his lead­er­ship as Chair­man of the House Ag­ri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee and House Speak­er,” she said in a state­ment.

Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden said of Fo­ley in a state­ment, “It was an hon­or to work with him dur­ing the budget sum­mits of the 1980s that did so much to se­cure our na­tion’s fu­ture, and when he served over­seas as our na­tion’s Am­bas­sad­or to Ja­pan.”

After leav­ing Con­gress, Fo­ley worked at the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld from 1995 through 1997, a peri­od in which he was Pres­id­ent Clin­ton’s chair­man of the For­eign In­tel­li­gence Ad­vis­ory Board. Clin­ton nom­in­ated him to be the 25th am­bas­sad­or to Ja­pan in 1997, a po­s­i­tion in which he served un­til March 2001.

After leav­ing that post, Fo­ley chaired the Mans­field Found­a­tion un­til 2008 and was act­ive on a num­ber of private and pub­lic boards of dir­ect­ors. Those in­cluded the Ja­pan-Amer­ica So­ci­ety of Wash­ing­ton, the Cen­ter for Stra­tegic and In­ter­na­tion­al Stud­ies, and the Cen­ter for Na­tion­al Policy.

He is sur­vived by his wife, Heath­er, and oth­er fam­ily mem­bers.

What We're Following See More »
“PROFOUNDLY DANGEROUS”
Clinton Rips Into Trump
45 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

Just a day after Donald Trump called her a bigot, Hillary Clinton delivered a scathing speech tying Trump to the KKK and so-called “alt-right.” This new frontier of debate between the two candidates has emerged at a time when Trump has been seeking to appeal to minority voters, among whom he has struggled to garner support. Calling him “profoundly dangerous,” Clinton didn’t hold back on her criticisms of Trump. “He is taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party,” Clinton said.

SEVEN-POINT LEAD IN A FOUR-WAY
Quinnipiac Has Clinton Over 50%
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump 51%-41% in a new Quinnipiac poll released today. Her lead shrinks to seven points when the third-party candidates are included. In that scenario, she leads 45%-38%, with Gary Johnson pulling 10% and Jill Stein at 4%.

Source:
PROCEDURES NOT FOLLOWED
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
5 hours ago
THE LATEST
MIGHT STILL ACCEPT FOREIGN AND CORPORATE MONEY
Chelsea to Stay on Board of Clinton Foundation
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

Is the Clinton family backtracking on some of its promises to insulate the White House from the Clinton Foundation? Opposition researchers will certainly try to portray it that way. A foundation spokesman said yesterday that Chelsea Clinton will stay on its board, and that the "foundation’s largest project, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, might continue to accept foreign government and corporate funding."

Source:
INTERCEPT IN MIDDLE EAST
Navy Calls Iranian Ships’ Actions Dangerous, Unprofessional
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Four Iranian ships made reckless maneuvers close to a U.S. warship this week, the Pentagon said Thursday, in an incident that officials said could have led to dangerous escalation." The four Iranian vessels engaged in a "high-speed intercept" of a U.S. destroyer in the Strait of Hormuz. A Navy spokesman said the Iranina actions "created a dangerous, harassing situation that could have led to further escalation including additional defensive measures" by the destroyer.

Source:
×