- For the former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland and Republican candidate in the 2010 gubernatorial election in Connecticut, see Thomas C. Foley. For other uses, see Thomas Foley (disambiguation).
|57th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives|
June 6, 1989 – January 3, 1995
|President||George H. W. Bush
|Preceded by||Jim Wright|
|Succeeded by||Newt Gingrich|
|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|
|25th United States Ambassador to Japan|
November 19, 1997 – April 1, 2001
George W. Bush
|Preceded by||Walter Mondale|
|Succeeded by||Howard Baker|
|Born||Thomas Stephen Foley
March 6, 1929
|Spouse(s)||Heather Strachan Foley|
|Alma mater||Gonzaga University
University of Washington
Thomas Stephen "Tom" Foley (born March 6, 1929) was the 57th 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.
Foley was the first Speaker of the House since 1862 to be defeated in a re-election campaign for Congress. He served as the United States Ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 2001 under Bill Clinton.
Early life and legal practice
Foley was born in Spokane, Washington. In 1946, he graduated from the Jesuit-run Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane.  He went on to attend the 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. Foley taught at Gonzaga University Law School (in Spokane, Washington) from 1958 to 1959. In 1960, he joined the office of the State of Washington Attorney General.
In 1961, Foley moved to Washington, D.C., and joined the staff of the United States Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs as assistant chief clerk and special counsel, in which capacity he served until mid 1964 when he quit 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 U.S. Constitution to limit the terms of federal officeholders.
However, in Foley's bid for a 16th term in the House, his Republican opponent, George Nethercutt, used the issue against him, repeatedly citing the caption of the federal case brought by Foley, "Foley against the People of the State of Washington." Nethercutt vowed that if elected, he would not serve more than three terms in the House (but ultimately served for five terms). Foley lost in a narrow race that coincided with the Republican electoral triumph of 1994. While Foley had usually relied on large margins in Spokane itself to carry him to victory, in 1994 he only won Spokane by 9,000 votes while Nethercutt did well enough in the rest of the district to win overall by just under 4,000 votes. At the time, it was reported that some voters believed mistakenly that if he beat Foley, Nethercutt would become the new speaker of the House.
Foley became the first sitting Speaker of the House to lose his bid for re-election since Galusha 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 Assault Weapon ban of 1994. 
Here is a chart of the vote in his elections. 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|
- 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.
- "Fact Sheet Eagle Scouts". Boy Scouts of America. Retrieved 3 March 2008.
- "Horan, Foley express appreciation to voters". Spokane Daily Chronicle. September 16, 1964. p. 5.
- Citation Needed
- "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
||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2008)|
William R. Poage
|Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee
Kika de la Garza
|Party political offices|
|House Majority Whip
House Democratic Whip
|House Majority Leader
House Democratic Leader
|Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
June 6, 1989 – January 3, 1995
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member from Washington's 5th congressional district
|U.S. Ambassador to Japan
Howard H. Baker, Jr.