Former House speaker Tom Foley dies at 84

In this July 9, 2003, file photo, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tom Foley speaks after receiving the Medal of Merit during ceremonies in Olympia, Wash. Foley, who also served as ambassador to Japan, was awarded the state's highest honor for his lifetime of service to the citizens of the state. With Foley in declining health, his friends are taking time to remember the achievements of the Democratic congressman who found ways to work with Republicans. (AP Photo/Louie Balukoff, File)

October 18, 2013 11:39:01 AM PDT
Former House Speaker Tom Foley has died at the age of 84.

That's according to House Democratic aides who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Foley was a Washington state lawmaker who became the first speaker since the Civil War who failed to win re-election in his home district. The courtly politician lost his seat in the "Republican Revolution" of 1994. The Democrat had never served a single day in the minority. He was defeated by Republican Spokane lawyer George Nethercutt.

Foley served as U.S. ambassador to Japan for four years during the Clinton administration. But he spent the most time in the House, serving 30 years including more than five as speaker.

The aides spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be quoted by name.

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