Eddie Bernice Johnson

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Eddie Bernice Johnson
Eddie Bernice Johnson, Official Portrait, c112th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 30th district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 1993
Preceded by District established
Member of the Texas Senate
from the 23rd district
In office
1987–1993
Preceded by Oscar Mauzy
Succeeded by Royce West
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 33rd district
In office
1973–1977
Preceded by District established
Succeeded by Lanell Cofer
Personal details
Born (1935-12-03) December 3, 1935 (age 79)
Waco, Texas
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Divorced
Residence Dallas, Texas
Alma mater Saint Mary's College-Indiana, Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University
Occupation Nurse, Therapist
Religion Baptist

Eddie Bernice Johnson (born December 3, 1935) is a politician from the state of Texas, currently representing the state's 30th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. An African-American, she is the first registered nurse elected to the U.S. Congress.

Early life, education, and medical career[edit]

Born and reared in Waco, Texas, Johnson's first aspirations were in medicine. She could not attend college in her own state because of her race, so she left Texas and attended Saint Mary's College in South Bend, Indiana, where she received a diploma in nursing in 1956. She transferred to Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, from which she received a bachelor's degree in nursing. She later attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and earned an MPA in 1976.[1] She served as Chief Psychiatric Nurse at the Dallas Veterans Administration Hospital (the first African American to hold that position), and entered politics after 16 years in that position.[2]

Early political career[edit]

In 1972, as an underdog candidate running for a seat in the Texas House, Eddie Bernice Johnson won a landslide victory and became the first black woman ever elected to public office from Dallas.[3] She soon became the first woman in Texas history to lead a major Texas House committee, the Labor Committee. Johnson left the state House in 1977, when President Jimmy Carter appointed her as the regional director for the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, the first African American woman to hold this position.[4]

Johnson entered politics again in 1986, and was elected a Texas state Senator, becoming the first female and African-American from the Dallas area to hold this office since Reconstruction. Her particular concerns as a Senator included health care, education, public housing, racial equity, economic development, and job expansion. She served on the Finance Committee, for which she chaired the subcommittee on Health and Human Services, and on the Education Committee. Her interest in health care led her to write legislation to regulate diagnostic radiology centers, require drug testing in hospitals, prohibit discrimination against AIDS victims, improve access to health care for AIDS patients, and prohibit hospital kickbacks to doctors. As a fair housing advocate, she sponsored a bill to empower city governments to repair substandard housing at the expense of landlords, and wrote a bill to enforce prohibitions against housing discrimination.[5]

As a lawmaker, Johnson was able to bring to a public forum her fight against racism, though she faced discrimination herself in the legislature. "Being a woman and being black is perhaps a double handicap," she told the Chicago Tribune. "When you see who's in the important huddles, who's making the important decisions, it's men."[6] Johnson sponsored several bills aimed towards equity, including a bill to establish goals for the state to do business with 'socially-disadvantaged' businesses, and crafted a fair housing act aimed at toughening up fair housing laws and establishing a commission to investigate complaints of discriminatory housing practices.

In addition to her legislation, Johnson held hearings and investigated complaints. In 1989, she testified in a federal court about racism in the Dallas city government. In 1992, she formally asked the Justice Department to investigate harassment of local black students. That same year, she held hearings to examine discrimination charges about unfair contracting bids for the government's Superconducting Super Collider. One thing Johnson fears most about discrimination is the legacy it leaves for youth. "I am frightened to see young people who believe that a racist power structure is responsible for every negative thing that happens to them," she explained to the New York Times. "After a point it does not matter whether these perceptions are true or false; it is the perceptions that matter."[7]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Elections[edit]

Midway through her second term in the state senate, Johnson opted to run in the Democratic primary for the newly-created 30th congressional district. She defeated Republican nominee Lucy Cain 72%-25%.[8] In 1994, she defeated Lucy Cain again 73%-26%.[9] In 1996, after her district was significantly redrawn as a result of Bush v. Vera, she won re-election to a third term with just 55% of the vote, the worst election performance of her congressional career. However, this election was held under unusual circumstances. All of the candidates in the race appeared on a single ballot regardless of party, and Johnson faced two other Democrats. Proving just how Democratic this district still was, the three Democrats tallied 73 percent of the vote between them. [10] Johnson has never faced another contest nearly that close, and has been reelected 18 more times with at least 72% of the vote. In the most recent cycle Johnson easily beat two opponents in the Democratic Primary, State Representative Barbara Mallory Caraway and lawyer Taj Clayton, gaining 70% of the vote; she went on to win the general election by a landslide, gaining almost 79% of the votes cast.[11]

Tenure[edit]

The 17th chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, she was a leading voice in opposition to the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. During debate on the House floor, she stated:

"I am not convinced that giving the President the authority to launch a unilateral, first-strike attack on Iraq is the appropriate course of action at this time. While I believe that under international law and under the authority of our Constitution, the United States must maintain the option to act in its own self-defense, I strongly believe that the administration has not provided evidence of an imminent threat of attack on the United States that would justify a unilateral strike. I also believe that actions alone, without exhausting peaceful options, could seriously harm global support for our war on terrorism and distract our own resources from this cause."[12]

She was one of the 31 who voted in the House against counting the electoral votes from Ohio in the United States presidential election, 2004.[13]

In 2007, Congresswoman Johnson was appointed by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) to serve as Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment during the 110th and 111th Congresses. She was the first African-American and first female in Congress to hold the position of this Subcommittee Chair. While holding the position of Subcommittee Chair, Congresswoman Johnson sponsored the Water Resources Development Act. She successfully secured and led Congress in overriding President Bush’s veto of it. This was the only veto override during his presidency.[14]

During the 2007 primary campaign, Johnson initially supported U.S. Senator John Edwards for President. After his withdrawal from the race, she pledged her support as a superdelegate to Barack Obama and her district backed Obama heavily in the 2008 election.

Recently, the Congresswoman, along with Rep. Donna Edward (D) proposed a publicly funded park on the moon to mark where the Apollo missions landed between 1969 and 1972.The Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act, H.R. 2617, calls for the park to be run jointly by the Department of the Interior and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).[15]

Scholarship violations[edit]

In August 2010, Amy Goldson, counsel for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, said that Johnson violated organizational rules by awarding scholarship money to four relatives and two children of a top aide. Awards come with an anti-nepotism rule, and winners must live or study in the Congress member's district. Johnson said she "unknowingly" made a mistake in awarding the grants and would work with the foundation to rectify it.[16]

Johnson said, "I recognized the names when I saw them. And I knew that they had a need just like any other kid that would apply for one."

Soon after Johnson denied having involvement in the scholarship process, opponent Stephen Broden released letters bearing Johnson's signature in which the representative requested that the scholarship check be made and sent directly to her relatives instead of to the University as would normally be procedure.[17] Subsequently, the Dallas Morning News ran an editorial questioning her changing story on the matter.[18]

Committees[edit]

In December 2010, Congresswoman Johnson was elected as the first African-American and the first female Ranking Member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.[19] From 2000 to 2002, she was the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education. Congresswoman Johnson been an outspoken advocate for the need to invest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. In April, 2012 Johnson introduced the "Broadening Participation in STEM Education Act.” The “Broadening Participation in STEM Education Act” would authorize the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award grants to increase the number of students from underrepresented minority groups receiving degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The bill would also expand the number of faculty members from underrepresented minority groups at colleges and universities.[20]

Congresswoman Johnson is a current member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and has been since being elected in 1992. She is also the highest ranking Texan on this committee. Congresswoman Johnson also presently serves on the Aviation Subcommittee, Highways and Transit Subcommittee and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee.

Johnson was handily re-nominated in the Democratic primary election held on March 4, 2014. She polled 23,688 votes (69.9 percent) to former state Representative Barbara Mallory Caraway's 10,185 (30.1 percent). Caraway has also run against Johnson previously.[21]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "JOHNSON, Eddie Bernice, (1935 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "Hon. Eddie Bernice Johnson". The History Makers. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "Johnson, Eddie Bernice (1935- )". The Black Past. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "Eddie Bernice Johnson (D)". Washington Post. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "Fair housing bill proposed". The Bonham Daily Favorite. December 22, 1988. 
  6. ^ Korosec, Thomas (August 19, 1990). "Eyes On Texas: Where Men Are Men And Women Run For Public Office". Chicago Tribune. 
  7. ^ Suro, Roberto (September 10, 1989). "In Dallas, Race Is at the Heart Of City Politics". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ "TX District 30 Race - Nov 03, 1992". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-05-15. 
  9. ^ "TX District 30 Race - Nov 08, 1994". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-05-15. 
  10. ^ "TX District 30 Race - Nov 05, 1996". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-05-15. 
  11. ^ "US House District 30". Texas Tribune. Retrieved 5 June 2013.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  12. ^ Johnson, E. B. (October 8, 2002). "Remarks during debate on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002". C-SPAN Video Library. 
  13. ^ FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 7
  14. ^ "Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson's Biography". House.gov. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  15. ^ http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/309829-dems-propose-historical-park-on-the-moon
  16. ^ "Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson violated rules, steered scholarships to relatives". Dallas Morning News. 30 August 2010. Retrieved 2013-05-15. 
  17. ^ Todd J. Gillman and Christy Hoppe (September 8, 2010). "Letters bearing Eddie Bernice Johnson's signature ask that scholarship money be sent directly to her grandsons". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Editorial: Scholarship violations starting to overshadow Johnson's years of service". Dallas Morning News. 7 September 2010. Retrieved 2013-05-15. 
  19. ^ "Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson". The Arena. Politico. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  20. ^ Koebler, Jason (April 25, 2012). "Legislation Would Increase Minority Access to STEM Degrees". U.S.News & World Report. 
  21. ^ "Democratic primary election returns, March 4, 2014". enr.sos.state.tx.us. Retrieved March 8, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
New district
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 33-O (Dallas)

1973–1977
Succeeded by
Lanell Cofer
Texas Senate
Preceded by
Oscar Mauzy
Texas State Senator
from District 23 (Dallas)

1987–1993
Succeeded by
Royce West
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
District created following 1990 census
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 30th congressional district

1993–present
Incumbent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Alcee Hastings
D-Florida
United States Representatives by seniority
57th
Succeeded by
Peter King
R-New York