Cantwell Statement on Passing of Former Speaker Tom Foley

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released the following statement on the passing of former Speaker of the House Tom Foley. 

“America has lost a great leader and a wonderful human being. Tom Foley typified what is best about political leadership, leading no matter what the consequences. Today, all Washingtonians’ thoughts and prayers are with Tom’s wife, Heather, and the Foley family.

“Everyone liked Tom Foley. Tom served for 30 years in Congress, representing a moderate district. He had an unbelievable ability to communicate and fight for the people he represented.

“A proud son of Spokane, Tom rose to become the nation’s first Speaker of the House from west of the Rocky Mountains. He became one of the most powerful politicians in the country, but he never forgot where he came from. His footprints are left all over the state of Washington and our nation, from modern agriculture and trade policy to Fairchild Air Force Base and the expansion of the Grand Coulee Dam.

“Tom Foley will always be remembered as the King of Agriculture. He worked across the aisle to create the modern food stamp program, combatting hunger in America while broadening the agriculture market. Representing an agricultural district, Tom worked to make sure products grown in Washington state made it to dinner tables all around the world. He was a leader in opening Asian and other markets to Northwest wheat and cherries. And he worked with both President Carter and President Reagan to continue the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project that kept water flowing in Eastern Washington. As Tom said: ‘A strong agriculture economy is absolutely essential for a strong national economy.’ Today, those words still ring true.

“Tom Foley’s impact will be felt for generations to come in Washington state and across our nation. Tom was a true legend, and he will never be forgotten.”