President Barack Obama said: “America has lost a legend of the United States Congress. Tom’s straightforward approach helped him find common ground with members of both parties, eventually leading to his election as the 57th Speaker of the House. After his career in Congress, Tom served as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, where his poise and civility helped strengthen our relationship with one of our closest allies.”
Former President George H.W. Bush , who traveled to Spokane in 1989 for a demonstration of bipartisanship, wrote in a letter to Foley in July, “When I think of Tom Foley, I think about an outstanding public servant. I think about love of country and service to others … as speaker, you were fair and worked well with both sides of the aisle.”
Former President Bill Clinton , whose first two years in the White House were Foley’s last two as speaker, called him “as knowledgeable a lawmaker as has ever served” in a letter last July. “You always delivered for those who counted on you, and not once in 30 years did your personal ambition outweigh the concerns of your constituents or stand in the way of smart policy.”
Sen. Patty Murray , D-Wash., said Foley welcomed her to “the other Washington” when she was first elected to the Senate in 1992 and he was House speaker. “Tom spent his life serving his state and his country, and his legacy is felt not only in Eastern Washington, but around the world. … Tom touched the lives of everyone he encountered, whether it was a wheat farmer in Washington or a foreign dignitary in Japan.”
Gov. Jay Inslee , who was a freshman Democrat in the House representing Central Washington during Foley’s last term as speaker, said a passion to serve was at the heart of all his roles. “He was a giant at a time when bipartisan cooperation for the good of the country was the norm, not the exception. He dedicated his life to making his community, his state, and his country a better place.”
Sen. Maria Cantwell , D-Wash., also a House freshman during Foley’s last term, said the country lost “a great leader and a wonderful human being. … Tom Foley typified what is best about political leadership, leading no matter what the consequences. He had an unbelievable ability to communicate and fight for the people he represented.”
Rep. Cathy McMorris
Rodgers, a Spokane Republican currently serving in the seat he held, said Foley will be remembered as one of the state’s giants. “Eastern Washington agriculture and wheat farmers still benefit today from his leadership.”
Ambassador to China Gary Locke said Foley became a friend and mentor on whom he leaned frequently for advice, as Washington governor and later as commerce secretary. “Few people who have ever served in Congress have had the unequaled influence and record of accomplishment that Tom provided the people of Eastern Washington, and our nation, for three decades.”
Former Rep. George Nethercutt , a Spokane Republican who beat Foley in the 1994 election, said Foley was dignified in Congress, in the campaign and in defeat. “Foley represented an era that said ‘We can work this out, let’s accommodate each other and move the country forward.’ ”
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