Former House Speaker Tom Foley dead at 84


Former Speaker of the House Tom Foley has died at 84.

Tom Foley
Tom Foley on an army tour of the island of Grenada on Saturday, Nov. 5, 1983.
John Duricka/ap

Foley, a Washington state lawmaker, served as speaker from 1989-1994. In that year, dubbed the “Republican Revolution,” he became the first speaker to be defeated in a re-election bid in 134 years.

He was first elected to Congress in 1964 and served 15 terms. Prior to his ascension to speaker, he served as chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, where he worked to reduce hunger in the United States.

After his defeat, he served as the U.S. ambassador to Japan for four years during the Clinton Administration.

The former speaker was visited in hospice this week amid the government shutdown by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, his family said. He died in his home in Washington D.C. of complications of strokes. 

In a statement, House Speaker John Boehner called Foley “a forthright and warmhearted” leader who displayed a “solid sense of fairness.”

“With his passing, the House loses one of its most devoted servants and the country loses a great statesman,” Boehner said. 

Pelosi said Foley was “quintessential champion of the common good” who had “unrivaled ability to build consensus and find common ground earned him genuine respect on both sides of the aisle.”

He is survived by his wife Heather and sister Maureen Latimer. 

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell contributed to this report. 

This article originally appeared on

Former House Speaker Tom Foley dead at 84