- Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Texas
- Member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus
See also: Democratic Party Congressional Progressive Caucus
Congressional Black Caucus Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus
Eddie Bernice Johnson was born on December 3, 1934 in Waco, Texas. She earned a Nursing Certificate from St. Mary's College in 1955, a BS in Nursing from Texas Christian University in 1967, and an MPA from Southern Methodist University in 1976. Thereafter, Johnson worked variously as a regional director in the U.S. Department of Health, Education & Welfare; a psychiatric nurse at a Veterans' Administration Hospital; the head of a consulting and airport-concession management firm; and a board-of-directors member with Sunbelt National Bank.
Johnson, a Democrat, served in both the Texas House of Representatives (1972-86) and the Texas State Senate (1986-92) prior to her 1993 election to the U.S. Congress, where she has represented Texas's 30th District ever since. Johnson is a member of both the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and in the mid-2000s she belonged also to the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus. Among her most stalwart political supporters have been the AFL-CIO, EMILY's List, J Street, the Progressive Democrats of America, and the Sierra Club. For details about Rep. Johnson's voting record on a range of key issues, click here.
On a number of occasions, Johnson, who is a member of the NAACP, has accused her political adversaries of racism. In a September 2009 interview, for instance, when asked how much of conservative Americans' distaste for President Barack Obama might be due to his race, the congresswoman replied: “As far as African-Americans are concerned, we think most of it is. And we think it’s very unfortunate. We as African-American people of course are very sensitive to it.” In a similar vein, Johnson maintains that “the true intent” of Voter ID laws is “to disenfranchise certain voters,” specifically nonwhite minorities. As she articulated in August 2013: “Although voter intimidation today may not be as blatant as poll taxes or literacy tests, it still exists in more devious forms, such as burdensome voter ID laws that aim to oppress minorities.”
When the House of Representatives voted by a 345-75 margin to defund the notoriously corrupt community organization ACORN in September 2009, Johnson was one of the 75—all Democrats—who voted to continue funding the group. For a list of other legislators who voted as Johnson did, click here.
In 2009 Johnson co-sponsored the Community Reinvestment Modernization Act (CRMA), whose purpose was “to close the wealth gap in the United States” by increasing “home ownership and small business ownership for low- and moderate-income borrowers and persons of color.” Specifically, the legislation sought to apply lower lending standards not only to low-income, underqualified borrowers, but to any nonwhite minorities regardless of income. The original Community Reinvestment Act, which was a predominant cause of the disastrous housing-market crisis and economic meltdown of 2008, had pursued precisely these same objectives.
In August 2010, it was learned that from 2005-09 Johnson had illegally given her own relatives large sums of money from a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) program that annually provides each CBC member with $10,000 that is to be awarded, in the form of scholarships, to deserving students in the member's district. The Fund explicitly bars any of this money from being given to the relatives of anyone connected to the CBC or the CBCF—i.e., members of the Caucus, members of the Foundation, or aides of those members. Ignoring this prohibition, Johnson awarded 23 separate scholarships—with an aggregate value of more than $25,000—to her two grandsons, her two great-nephews, and the children of her Dallas district director, Rod Givens. Moreover, none of those recipients lived or studied in Johnson's district. When news of Johnson's malfeasance became public, she pledged to quickly repay to CBCF all of the scholarship money she had given to those recipients.
In a December 2012 interview regarding the so-called “fiscal cliff” budget negotiations that were ongoing at the time, Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto—noting that the only solutions Rep. Johnson would discuss were various forms of “revenue generation” (i.e., tax increases)—repeatedly implored the congresswoman to specify at least one budget item that she would be in favor of cutting. “If you’d shut up for just a second, I would try,” an angry Johnson retorted. But in the end, she was unable to name even a single cut she would support.
In July 2014, when tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador were illegally crossing the Mexican border, unchecked, into Texas and other southern U.S. states, Johnson dismissed the claims of critics who held that President Obama should go to the Texas border and witness the phenomenon first-hand. “I think that he has people in place to take care of that situation,” Johnson said on MSNBC. “There have been leaders from all over the Congress to visit the border. The Homeland Security has been there. What would be the point in the president going?... I don’t think he needs to go to get information.”
In contrast to her lukewarm concern about the border crisis, Johnson feels a great sense of urgency vis-à-vis the issue of global warming. Asserting that “we must act boldly and … swiftly” in response to “the overwhelming scientific consensus” that “the climate is changing” as a result of greenhouse gases emitted by human industrial activity, she favors the passage of cap-and-trade legislation limiting the carbon emissions that American businesses are permitted to generate. In a climate-change panel discussion which she held in Dallas on March 31, 2014, the congresswoman cited “increased drought,” “extreme flooding,” and “increased risk of wild fires” as as examples of the harm for which climate change was already responsible.
In January 2015, Johnson objected strenuously when Republican House Speaker John Boehner—without first asking President Obama for his approval—invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress on March 3rd about the gravity of the growing Iranian nuclear threat and his “profound disagreement” with the deal that the Obama Administration was pursuing with Iran. Johnson was one of numerous CBC members who announced that because of Netanyahu's act of “disrespect” against Obama, they would be boycotting the speech.