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Foley Memorial Brings Tributes, Criticism of Current Environment

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Obama and Heather Foley, the widow of late Washington Democrat, were in the Capitol on Tuesday for a memorial service honoring the former speaker, who died earlier this month at the age of 84.

Clinton shared with the audience the content of a letter he received from Foley shortly after the defeat, asking to use the lame-duck session of Congress to establish the World Trade Organization.

“He was, in short, dying inside, heartbroken, and he still showed up for work,” Clinton said. “He still believed that the purpose of political service was to get the show on the road.”

Former Rep. Norm Dicks, a Washington Democrat who served in the House from 1977 through the end of the 112th Congress, also paid tribute to one of Foley’s crowning legislative achievements — the farm bill system in which federal farm subsidies were linked to the food stamp program, creating an alliance of farm-state and urban lawmakers.

“Bringing these two issues together allowed Tom to build support for both,” Dicks said. “Tom believed in and practiced civility and bipartisanship. His view was that after the elections were over, Democrats and Republicans should work together to deal with the national legislative agenda.”

One of the Republicans with whom Foley worked most closely, former House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel, R-Ill., also paid tribute to his civility.

Michel, who presided when Foley gave his farewell speech to Congress nearly two decades ago, said, “I only hope that the legislators who walk through here day by day will feel his spirit, learn from it, and be humbled by it.

“That’s what I have to say in honor of my dear friend Tom Foley,” he closed, to a resounding round of applause.

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