House Speaker John Boener (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) each released a statement to pay tribute to former House Speaker Tom Foley (D-WA), who died Friday at the age of 84.
“Today the House mourns the loss of our beloved former colleague, Thomas S. Foley from the state of Washington. Born and raised in Spokane, Tom was elected to the House in 1964 from Washington’s Fifth Congressional District. Over the course of 15 terms and countless accomplishments, he rose to become chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Majority Whip, Majority Leader, and on June 6, 1989, the 57th Speaker of the House.
“It was a natural sequence for a natural leader. Forthright and warmhearted, 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.
“The whole House extends its heartfelt sympathy to Tom’s wife, Heather, a longtime friend of this institution. We will keep her and all of Tom’s friends and loved ones in our prayers. He will be dearly missed.”
“For thirty-six years, Speaker Tom Foley served our country as a quintessential champion of the common good. A proud son of Washington state, he stood on the strength of his principles and inspired a sense of purpose and civility that reflects the best of our democracy.
“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. That characteristic passion for fairness and deep respect for others later defined his extraordinary work as President Clinton’s Ambassador to Japan.
“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. 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.”
Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly featured a photo of Republican Tom Foley, who’s exploring a run for the 2014 Connecticut governor’s race.