Former Speaker Tom Foley dies at 84

Former Speaker Tom Foley (D-Wa.) has died at the age of 84.

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Foley served in the House of Representatives for 30 years, from 1965 to 1995. He was elected Speaker in 1989, and served in that role until 1994, when he became the first sitting Speaker to lose reelection.

In a statement, President Obama said the nation had "lost a legend" of Capitol Hill politics. 

"Foley represented the people of Washington’s 5th district with skill, dedication, and a deep commitment to improving the lives of those he was elected to serve," Obama said, adding the former Speaker "straightforward approach helped him find common ground with members of both parties."

Foley fought against efforts to impose term limits on elected officials in his home state, and prevailed in a decision by a federal court, which decided the limits were unconstitutional. 

Many believe the term limits fight damaged him politically, and was part of the reason he lost during the Republican wave election of 1994.

He was later appointed as the U.S. ambassador to Japan by then-President Clinton, a post he held until 2001.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Foley will be "dearly missed" by former colleagues. 

"Forthright and warmhearted, Tom Foley endeared himself not only to the wheat farmers back home but also colleagues on both sides of the aisle. That had a lot to do with his solid sense of fairness, which remains a model for any Speaker or representative," Boehner said. 

"Take it from the great Henry Hyde, who used to say of Tom, ‘I wish he were a Republican.’ With his passing, the House loses one of its most devoted servants and the country loses a great statesman."

Foley spent his later years working for a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm, and retired in 2008. 

Updated at 2:52 p.m.