|49th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives|
June 6, 1989 – January 3, 1995
George H. W. Bush
|Preceded by||Jim Wright|
|Succeeded by||Newt Gingrich|
|25th United States Ambassador to Japan|
November 19, 1997 – April 1, 2001
George W. Bush
|Preceded by||Walter Mondale|
|Succeeded by||Howard Baker|
|House Majority Leader|
January 3, 1987 – June 6, 1989
|Preceded by||Jim Wright|
|Succeeded by||Dick Gephardt|
|House Majority Whip|
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1987
|Preceded by||John Brademas|
|Succeeded by||Tony Coelho|
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 5th district
January 3, 1965 – January 3, 1995
|Preceded by||Walt Horan|
|Succeeded by||George Nethercutt|
Thomas Stephen Foley
March 6, 1929
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
October 18, 2013
Washington, D.C., U.S.
University of Washington, Seattle
Thomas Stephen "Tom" Foley (March 6, 1929 – October 18, 2013) was an American lawyer and politician from the state of Washington. He was the 49th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, serving from 1989 to 1995. He represented Washington's 5th congressional district for 30 years as a Democratic member from 1965 to 1995.
- Early life and legal practice 1
- Congressional service 2
- Term limits 3
- Electoral history 4
- Later career 5
- Death 6
- Honors 7
- References 8
- External links 9
Early life and legal practice
Foley was born in Spokane, Washington, the son of Helen Marie (née Higgins), a school teacher, and Ralph E. Foley, a Superior Court Judge. He was of Irish Catholic descent. In 1946, he graduated from the Jesuit-run Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane. He went on to attend Gonzaga University in Spokane and the University of Washington in Seattle, the latter awarding him a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1951. In 1957, he earned a law degree from the same university.
Following law school, Foley entered private practice. In 1958, he began working in the Spokane County prosecutor's office as a deputy prosecuting attorney, and later taught at Gonzaga University Law School (in Spokane) from 1958 to 1959. In 1961, he joined the Washington Attorney General's office as an assistant attorney general.
In 1961, Foley moved to Washington, D.C., and joined the staff of Senator Henry Jackson, the then-Democratic Senator From Washington. He left Jackson's employ in 1964 at his urging to run for Congress.
In 1964, Foley was unopposed for the Democratic nomination for Washington's 5th congressional seat, which included Spokane. He faced 11-term Republican incumbent Walt Horan in the general election and won by seven points, one of many swept into office in the Democratic landslide. He was re-elected without significant difficulty until 1978, when he narrowly defeated conservative activist Duane Alton. The next race in 1980 was also close, when physician John Sonneland finished just 4 points back. Though the fifth district became increasingly conservative, Foley didn't face serious opposition again until his defeat in 1994.
In 1981, Foley was chosen majority whip by the House Democratic caucus and served in that capacity until 1987, when he moved up to the position of majority leader. In 1989, Jim Wright of Texas stepped down as Speaker of the House amid an ethics scandal, and Foley was elected to succeed him. He became the first Speaker from a state west of the Rocky Mountains.
During his time in the House, Foley repeatedly opposed efforts to impose term limits on Washington state's elected officials, winning the support of the state's voters to reject term limits in a 1991 referendum; however, in 1992, a term limit ballot initiative was approved by the state's voters.
Foley brought suit, challenging the constitutionality of a state law setting eligibility requirements on federal offices. Foley won his suit, with federal courts declaring that states did not have the authority under the United States Constitution to limit the terms of federal officeholders.
However, in Foley's bid for a 16th term in the House, his
Foley became the first sitting Speaker of the House to lose his bid for re-election since Galusha A. Grow in 1862. He is sometimes viewed as a political casualty of the term limits controversy of the early 1990s. President Bill Clinton attributed his defeat to his support for the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994.
Here is a chart of the voting results in Foley's election race. There are subtotals for the city of Spokane, rural Spokane County, and a Spokane total, as this is the main part of the 5th Congressional District.
|Walt Horan (Inc)||R||32,262||16,757||49,019||73,884|
In 1997, Foley was appointed as the 25th U.S. Ambassador to Japan by President Bill Clinton. He served as ambassador until 2001.
Foley was a Washington delegate to the 2000 Democratic National Convention. On July 9, 2003, Washington Governor Gary Locke awarded the Washington Medal of Merit, the state's highest honor, to Foley. He was North American Chairman of the Trilateral Commission.
Foley died at his home in Washington, D.C. on October 18, 2013, following months of 
- Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (UK).
- Order of Merit (Germany).
- Légion d'honneur (France).
- Order of the Rising Sun with Paulownia Flowers, Grand Cordon (Japan), 1995.
- Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University, Pullman. Established in 1995.
- Song, Kyung M. (October 19, 2013). "Ex-House Speaker Tom Foley reigned in friendlier political era".
- "Horan, Foley express appreciation to voters". Spokane Daily Chronicle. September 16, 1964. p. 5.
- "My Life". Vintage. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
- Commentary: "Is Tom Foley the Wrong Man to Send to Tokyo?" BusinessWeek. May 12, 1997; Wudunn, Sheryl. "New U.S. Diplomat Tries to Speak Japan's Language," New York Times. April 8, 1998.
- Trilateral Commission: Foley, bio notes
- Clymer, Adam (October 18, 2013). "Thomas Foley, House Speaker, Dies at 84; Democrat Urged Parties to Collaborate". The New York Times.
- "Tom Foley, former speaker of the US House, dies at age 84". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
- "Former Speaker of the House Tom Foley dies at 84 - Spokesman.com - Oct. 18, 2013". Spokesman.com. 2013-10-18. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
- Tom Kludt (October 18, 2013). "Boehner, Pelosi Pay Tribute To Former Speaker Foley". Talkingpointsmemo.com. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
- "Former House Speaker Tom Foley dead at 84". CNN. October 18, 2013.
- Biographical Directory of the United States Congress: FOLEY, Thomas Stephen, (1929 - 2013); Retrieved 19 October 2013
- , p. 116Irish on the Inside: In Search of the Soul of Irish AmericaTom Hayden, ; Retrieved 19 October 2013
- Tom Foley at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Appearances on C-SPAN