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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

October 29, 2013 at 4:26 PM

Obama, members of Congress honor Foley at memorial service

 

President Obama speaks in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday during a memorial service for former House Speaker Tom Foley. Foley was a 30-year veteran of the House who died last week at the age of 84.   (AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Obama speaks in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday during a memorial service for former House Speaker Tom Foley. Foley was a 30-year veteran of the House who died last week at the age of 84. (AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON – Pausing for a rare detente, President Obama and members of Congress  gathered Tuesday for a memorial service for former House Speaker Tom Foley, praising the Spokane Democrat as an ideal embodiment of a public servant whose type of bipartisanship many said was lamentably lacking today.

The invitation-only event at Statuary Hall inside the Capitol was attended by 300 family, friends and former colleagues.

The American flag was lowered atop the Starbucks headquarters and other buildings in Seattle in memory of former House Speaker Tom Foley on Tuesday.  (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

The American flag was lowered atop the Starbucks headquarters and other buildings in Seattle in memory of former House Speaker Tom Foley on Tuesday. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

Newt Gingrich, the man who took Foley’s job as speaker after the Democrat’s ignominious defeat in the 1994 elections, sat in the front row. Former President Clinton lauded Foley as a tough-minded politico who understood difficult votes came with heavy price, and paid them anyway.

And Robert H. Michel, who served as Foley’s Republican foil for 14 years as House minority leader, said the two men shared a trust and the belief that their beloved House of Representatives was “one of the great creations of a free people.”

Foley died at 84 on  Oct. 18 from complications from strokes. He had been in home hospice for months in Washington, D.C.

The service was organized by the office of Speaker John Boehner. Foley’s widow, Heather, was escorted into the room by Obama and Boehner.

Comments | More in Congress, U.S. House of Representatives | Topics: memorial service, president obama, Tom Foley

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