: Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: United States Congress

Eddie Bernice Johnson

  • Member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1992
  • Member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus
  • Served in both the Texas State House (1972-86) and the Texas State Senate (1986-92)
Additional Resources

Eddie Bernice Johnson was born on December 3, 1935 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 1992 election to the U.S. Congress, where she went on to represent Texas’s 33rd, 23rd, and 30th Districts for the next 30 years. Johnson became 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.

Johnson wrote an article in the Dec 7, 2001 issue of People’s World, a Communist Party USA publication, arguing that America’s drug laws and sentencing patterns were racist. against nonwhite minorities.

Johnson was a guest speaker at the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom‘s 90th anniversary celebration on April 9, 2005.

In July 2005, Johnson and a congressional staffer spent three days in Havana, Cuba, “to explore first hand the issues facing the people of Cuba … [and] foster a more pragmatic approach towards dealing with the Cuban government and finding constructive solutions to US/Cuba policy concerns.” Johnson’s trip cost $1,555.29 and was paid for by the Christopher Reynolds Foundation.

On December 6, 2006—three days before the 25th anniversary of the murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner by former Black Panther Party member Mumia Abu Jamal—Johnson was one of 31 U.S. House Members (all Democrats) who voted against a resolution “condemning the decision of St. Denis, France, to name a street in honor of … Abu-Jamal.”

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.

In 2009 Johnson co-sponsored the Community Reinvestment Modernization Act (CRMA), whose stated 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, CRMA 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.) “Congress has passed a number of laws designed to combat redlining and eliminate housing discrimination,” said Johnson regarding CRMA. “Unfortunately, we all know that redlining still occurs.”

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.[1]  In 2011, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) gave Johnson a “Dishonorable Mention” in its annual “Most Corrupt Members of Congress” report.

In a December 2012 interview regarding some highly contentious budget negotiations that were ongoing in Congress 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 felt 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 favored the passage of cap-and-trade legislation limiting the carbon emissions that American businesses were 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.[2]

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 strong opposition to 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.

In April 2017, Johnson and two fellow House Democrats, Bobby Scott and Raúl Grijalva, released a statement expressing outrage when the conservative Heartland Institute sent copies of the newly published Why Climate Scientists Disagree About Global Warming — a book written by climate scientists challenging the environmentalist dogma of anthropogenic climate change — to approximately 200,000 science teachers nationwide. By Johnson’s telling, conservative donors like Charles and David Koch were behind the funding and distribution of these “scientifically inaccurate materials.”

When the Daily Caller in February 2018 contacted Johnson and a number of her fellow Congressional Black Caucus members to ask if they would be willing to publicly denounce the notorious Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Johnson was one of 20 who declined not only to denounce him, but also to issue any comment at all regarding his infamous anti-Semitic, anti-white rhetoric.

On November 20, 2021, Johnson announced that she would not seek re-election to any further terms in Congress. “I will retire, and let me assure that I will also recommend to you whom I feel is the best to follow me,” she said, adding that she would name a “female that is qualified.”

Over the years, Johnson received several donations from high-ranking officials and/or board members of Islamist organizations. Specifically, from 2002-2012 she received a total of $3,900 in contributions from individuals affiliated with the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the North American Islamic Trust, the Islamic Society of North America, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

For details about Rep. Johnson’s voting record on a range of key issues, click here.

Further Reading: “Eddie Bernice Johnson” (Votesmart.org, Ballotpedia.org, Keywiki.org)

Footnotes

  1. Report: U.S. Representative Gave Charitable Scholarships to Relatives” (CNN, 8-31-2010); “Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson Says She’ll Repay Scholarship Funds by Week’s End” (Dallas Morning News, 8-31-2010); “Black Caucus Foundation Chair Denounces Eddie Bernice Johnson, ‘Self-Dealing’ in Scholarships” (Dallas Morning News, 8-31-2010);
  2. TexMessage: Climate Change Should Not Be a Partisan Issue, Says Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson” (Houston Chronicle, 1-10-2013); “Ranking Member Johnson Hosts Climate Change Panel in Dallas” (3-31-2014).

Additional Resources