The Spectacle Blog

Tom Foley, R.I.P.

By on 10.18.13 | 7:52PM

Former Speaker of the House Tom Foley passed away today at the age of 84. 

Foley spent 30 years in Congress representing Washington's 5th Congressional District. He would rise rapidly in the Democratic ranks in the 1980s becoming Majority Whip in 1981 and House Majority Leader in 1987. Two years later, Foley ascended to the role of House Speaker following Jim Wright's resignation due to scandal.

While Foley made greater efforts to accommodate Republicans than either Wright or Tip O'Neill, his opposition to term limits in Washington state contributed to the rise of Newt Gingrich and the Republican Revolution of 1994. Indeed, Foley went to court to challenge the validity of statewide referendum which approved term limits. That November would lose his seat to rookie Republican candidate George Nethercutt thus ending three decades in Congress.

President Clinton would later appoint Foley as Ambassador to Japan in 1997, a post he held until 2001 when he was succeeded by former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker. 

Our own Quin Hillyer, who got to see Foley up close and personal, described him today as "a patriot" and "a gentleman: personally courteous, fair-minded in the ordinary cause of business, and modest in tone and manner."

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