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
Add to Briefcase
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 »
THE PRESIDENT’S POCKET
16th Charity Cancels Function at Mar-a-Lago
14 hours ago
THE LATEST
OVER N. KOREA NUCLEAR PROGRAMS
U.S. Imposes Sanctions on 16 Companies
15 hours ago
THE LATEST
U.N. REPORT REVEALS DETAILS
North Korean Chemical Weapons Shipments to Syria Intercepted
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"Two North Korean shipments to a Syrian government agency responsible for the country's chemical weapons program were intercepted in the past six months, according to a confidential United Nations report on North Korea sanctions violations."

Source:
PARTICIPATES IN TOWN HALL TONIGHT
Ryan: “There Are No Sides” on Charlottesville
1 days ago
THE LATEST

After taking fire for not forcefully condemning President Trump's statements on Charlottesville, Speaker Paul Ryan today issued a statement that takes issue with any "moral relativism" when it comes to Neo-Nazis. "There are no sides," he wrote. "There is no other argument. We will not tolerate this hateful ideology in our society." Ryan participates in a CNN town hall tonight from Racine, Wis.

Source:
TRUST FOR NATIONAL MALL SET TO REFURBISH SITE
New Jefferson Memorial Exhibit Will Acknowledge His Owning of Slaves
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

"An exhibit alongside the nation's chief memorial to Thomas Jefferson will receive an update that reflects 'the complexity' of his status as a founder of the United States and a slaveholder, according to stewards of the National Mall." The Trust for the National Mall, which works with the National Park Service to maintain the Mall, "has been planning to raise money to refurbish the National Park Service exhibit accompanying the memorial, which has deteriorated since its installment about 20 years ago." An official with the Trust told the Washington Examiner: "We can reflect the momentous contributions of someone like Thomas Jefferson, but also consider carefully the complexity of who he was. And that's not reflected right now in the exhibits."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login