Former House speaker Tom Foley has died

October 18, 2013
Former House speaker Tom Foley (AP Photo/Jeff T. Green, file)
Former House speaker Tom Foley (AP Photo/Jeff T. Green, file)

Former House speaker Tom Foley has died, according to multiple Democrats.

Foley, 84 and a Democratic congressman from Washington state, served as speaker from 1989 to 1995.

He had been in ill health in recent months.

Foley in 1994 became the first speaker in more than a century to be defeated for reelection to his congressional seat. His defeat after 30 years in Congress was perhaps the biggest GOP victory in that year's "Republican Revolution," which returned Republicans to power and installed Newt Gingrich as speaker.

He later served as ambassador to Japan under President Bill Clinton.

Prior to joining Congress, Foley was a lawyer and aide to Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson (D-Wash.).

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the next Democratic speaker after Foley, praised Foley as a consensus-builder.

“Today, our country mourns the loss of a leader whose authenticity, dedication, and diplomacy will forever serve as an example to all of us who strive to make a difference through public service," Pelosi said. "It was an honor to serve with him as a colleague; it was a privilege to know him as a friend. We only hope it is a comfort to his wife, Heather, and his family that so many mourn their loss at this sad time.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement: "Forthright and warm-hearted, Tom Foley endeared himself not only to the wheat farmers back home but also colleagues on both sides of the aisle.  That had a lot to do with his solid sense of fairness, which remains a model for any speaker or representative. Take it from the great Henry Hyde, who used to say of Tom, ‘I wish he were a Republican.’  With his passing, the House loses one of its most devoted servants, and the country loses a great statesman."

Here is the Post's full obituary.

Originally posted at 12:00 p.m.

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