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 »
BACKING OUT ON BERNIE
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

TAKATA RECALLS COULD TAKE YEARS TO COMPLETE
Airbag Recalls Target 12 Million Automobiles
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration identified on Friday the makes and models of 12 million cars and motorcycles that have been recalled because of defective air bag inflators made by Japanese supplier Takata. The action includes 4.3 million Chryslers; 4.5 million Hondas; 1.6 million Toyotas; 731,000 Mazdas; 402,000 Nissans; 383,000 Subarus; 38,000 Mitsubishis; and 2,800 Ferraris. ... Analysts have said it could take years for all of the air bags to be replaced. Some have questioned whether Takata can survive the latest blow."

Source:
INVESTIGATION LEADS TO LEAKER’S RESIGNATION
Secret Service Disciplines 41 Agents Over Chaffetz Leak
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says 41 Secret Service agents have been disciplined in the fallout of an investigation over the agency's leak of personnel files. The leaker, who has resigned, released records showing that Oversight and Government Reform Chair Jason Chaffetz—who was leading an investigation of Secret Service security lapses—had applied for a job at the agency years before. The punishments include reprimands and suspension without pay. "Like many others I was appalled by the episode reflected in the Inspector General’s report, which brought real discredit to the Secret Service," said Johnson.

Source:
#NEVERTRUMP’S LONELY LEADER
Romney Talks Cost of His Futile Anti-Trump Fight
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

Mitt Romney spoke in an interview with the Wall Street Journal about his decision to challenge Donald Trump. “Friends warned me, ‘Don’t speak out, stay out of the fray,’ because criticizing Mr. Trump will only help him by giving him someone else to attack. They were right. I became his next target, and the incoming attacks have been constant and brutal.” Still, "I wanted my grandkids to see that I simply couldn’t ignore what Mr. Trump was saying and doing, which revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world.”

Source:
CONGRESS DIVIDED ON DEBT CRISIS PLAN
Puerto Rico Relief Stalled on the Hill
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A bill to help Puerto Rico handle its $70 billion debt crisis is facing an uncertain future in the Senate. No Senate Democrats have endorsed a bill backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, while some are actively fighting it. ... On the Republican side, senators say they’re hopeful to pass a bill but don’t know if they can support the current legislation — which is expected to win House approval given its backing from leaders in that chamber."

Source:
×