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Historical Society Honors Former Speaker Foley

The U.S. Capitol Historical Society on Tuesday evening recognized former Speaker Tom Foley (D-Wash.) for his leadership in Congress and his domestic and international policy achievements.

The nonprofit group’s board of trustees gave Foley the society’s annual Freedom Award, created in 1993 and named for the statue that tops the Capitol Dome. Over 30 years in the House, Foley climbed through the Democratic leadership ranks to become Speaker in 1989. He led the chamber until a defeat in the 1994 elections forced him out of Congress. He was appointed ambassador to Japan by President Bill Clinton in 1997 and served in that capacity until 2001.

During the presentation of the award, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) and former Rep. Bob Michel (R-Ill.) all shared stories of memorable times they spent with Foley.

“There are few people more deserving of the Freedom Award than Speaker Tom Foley,” Hoyer said. “He is a distinguished figure in the state of Washington and a man of the West. He has dedicated his life to public service, both in Congress and as ambassador to Japan, and he has worked tirelessly to promote the values of freedom and democracy at home and abroad. It was an honor to serve under his leadership, and I am proud to see him receive this honor today.”

Pelosi cited Foley’s bipartisan work on the budget, “commitment to solving the most difficult foreign policy situations with diplomacy” and leadership talent. “Speaker Foley was a philosopher as well as a strong leader,” she said.

Foley, who is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, was on hand Tuesday in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall to receive the award. “I do not accept this award solely for myself, but for the Republicans and Democrats I served during my tenure in Congress,” he said.

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