Former House Speaker Tom Foley died on Friday at the age of 84. Foley suffered a stroke in December and was hospitalized with pneumonia in May. He returned home after a week and was on hospice care after that, according to his wife, Heather.
The Democratic congressman served in the House for 30 years and became speaker toward the end of his time. However, he was toppled when Republicans took control of Congress in 1994.
The Associated Press reports that Foley’s wife wrote a 10-page obituary for her husband, saying that he “was very much a believer that the perfect should not get in the way of the achievable.”
Foley grew up in Spokane, Washington, and represented the agriculture-heavy area for 15 terms in the house, including more than five years as speaker. President Obama released a statement about Foley’s death, saying, “America has lost a legend of the United States Congress. Tom’s straightforward approach helped him find common ground with members of both parties.”
Along with his time spent in the House of Representatives, Tom Foley was also a US ambassador to Japan under the Clinton administration, notes USA Today. He was remembered by members of both political parties, including current House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).
Boehner called his predecessor “forthright and warm-hearted,” adding, “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.”
As speaker, Foley was instrumental in the 1990 budget talks, which led then-President George H.W. Bush to break his pledge about raising taxes. The deal played a role in Bush’s 1992 defeat. Despite the difference in political opinion, the former president praised Foley in a statement on Friday, saying, “Tom never got personal or burned bridges. We didn’t agree on every issue, but on key issues we managed to put the good of the country ahead of politics.”
There was no word on funeral arrangements for former House Speaker Tom Foley.
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