Nisha Rathode (Editor)

Eddie Bernice Johnson

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Preceded by  Oscar Mauzy
Name  Eddie Johnson
Succeeded by  Royce West
Succeeded by  Lanell Cofer
Children  Kirk Johnson
Political party  Democratic

Eddie Bernice Johnson httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommons99
Preceded by  Constituency established
Preceded by  Constituency established
Full Name  Eddie Bernice Johnson
Born  December 3, 1935 (age 80) Waco, Texas, U.S. (1935-12-03)
Role  United States Representative
Spouse  Lacey Kirk Johnson (m. 1956–1970)
Office  Representative (D-TX 30th District) since 1993
Education  Southern Methodist University (1976), Texas Christian University (1967), Saint Mary's College (1956)
Similar People  Sheila Jackson Lee, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Joe Barton, Lamar S Smith, Mac Thornberry

Member of congress start date  January 3, 1993

Bbn with rep eddie bernice johnson d tx and energy secretary ernest moniz cbcfalc15

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. She has been serving as a representative since 1993, when she was the first registered nurse elected to the U.S. Congress, and was re-elected in 2016. She formerly served in the Texas state house, where she was elected in 1972 in a landslide, the first black woman to win electoral office from Dallas, Texas. She also served for more than one term in the Texas senate before being elected to Congress.


Johnson had a career in nursing before entering politics. She served for 16 years as the first African-American Chief Psychiatric Nurse at the Dallas Veterans Administration Hospital.

She denies that the Armenian Genocide happened.

Martin bashir rep eddie bernice johnson discuss texas voter suppression

Early life, education, and medical career

Born and reared in Waco, Texas, Johnson grew up wanting to work in medicine. She left Texas, which had segregated schools, 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 a Master of Public Administration in 1976.

Johnson was the first African American to serve as Chief Psychiatric Nurse at the Dallas Veterans Administration Hospital. She entered politics after 16 years in that position.

Early political career

After passage of civil rights legislation and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which enabled African Americans in the South to register and vote, more African Americans began to run for office and be elected.

In 1972, as an underdog candidate running for a seat in the Texas House, Eddie Bernice Johnson won a landslide victory. She was the first black woman ever elected to public office from Dallas. 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.

Johnson entered electoral politics again in 1986, when she was elected as a Texas state Senator. She was the first woman and the first African American from the Dallas area to hold this office since Reconstruction. Her particular concerns included health care, education, public housing, racial equity, economic development, and job expansion. Johnson served on the Finance Committee, for which she chaired the subcommittee on Health and Human Services, and on the Education Committee. She wrote 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.

Johnson worked against racism, while dealing with discrimination 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." Johnson sponsored several bills aimed towards equity, including a bill to establish goals for the state to do business with 'socially-disadvantaged' businesses. She crafted a fair housing act aimed at toughening up fair housing laws and establishing a commission to investigate complaints of discriminatory housing practices.

Johnson also held committee 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.

Johnson fears the legacy that discrimination 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."


Midway through her second term in the state senate, Johnson opted to run in the Democratic primary for the newly created Texas's 30th congressional district. She defeated Republican nominee Lucy Cain 72%-25% in the 1992 general election. In 1994, she defeated Lucy Cain again 73%-26%.

In 1996, after her district was significantly redrawn as a result of Bush v. Vera, she won re-election to a third term with 55% of the vote, the worst election performance of her congressional career. 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 among them.

Johnson has never faced another contest nearly that close. She has been reelected nine more times with at least 72% of the vote. In 2012, 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. She was re-elected in 2014 and 2016.


The 17th chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Johnson opposed the 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."

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.

In 2007, Congresswoman Johnson was appointed by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) to serve as Chairwoman of its Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment during the 110th and 111th Congresses. She was the first African American and first woman in Congress to serve as Chair of this Subcommittee. As Subcommittee Chair, 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.

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

Johnson and 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).

Scholarship violations

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 of her own 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.

Opponent Stephen Broden released letters bearing Johnson's signature in which the representative requested that the scholarship check be made out to and sent directly to her relatives, instead of to the destination university as would normally be procedure. Subsequently, the Dallas Morning News ran an editorial questioning her changing story on the matter, saying that it was overshadowing her service in the House.


In December 2010, Johnson was elected as the first African American and the first female Ranking Member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. From 2000 to 2002, she was the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education. Johnson has been a strong 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.” This 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 STEM. The bill would also expand the number of faculty members from underrepresented minority groups at colleges and universities.

Johnson is a 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. 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) in the general election. Johnson was re-elected in the general elections in 2014 and 2016.

Committee assignments

  • Committee on Science and Technology (Ranking Member)
  • Subcommittee on Energy and Environment
  • Subcommittee on Research and Science Education
  • Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
  • Subcommittee on Aviation
  • Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials
  • Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment
  • Caucus memberships

  • Congressional Arts Caucus
  • Congressional Black Caucus
  • Congressional Tri Caucus - Founder
  • LGBT Equality Caucus
  • Congressional Progressive Caucus
  • Rare Disease Congressional Caucus
  • Congressional Cement Caucus
  • References

    Eddie Bernice Johnson Wikipedia