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News / Nation & World

Influential former Texas U.S. Rep. Johnson dies at 89

Biden hails her ‘immense courage,’ calls her ‘an icon’

By Associated Press
Published: January 1, 2024, 4:01pm

DALLAS, Texas — Trailblazing longtime U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, a nurse from Texas who helped bring hundreds of millions of federal dollars to the Dallas area as the region’s most powerful Democrat, died Sunday. She was 89.

President Joe Biden, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and other leaders issued statements about her death after her son posted about it on Facebook. The Dallas Morning News also confirmed her death with an unnamed source close to the family. No cause of death was given.

Biden hailed her “immense courage” and called her “an icon and mentor to generations of public servants, through whom her legacy of resilience and purpose will endure.”

“She was the single most effective legislator Dallas has ever had,” the mayor said in a statement. “Nobody brought more federal infrastructure money home to our city. Nobody fought harder for our communities and our residents’ interests and safety. And nobody knew how to navigate Washington better for the people of Dallas.”

Eddie Bernice Johnson served in the House for three decades after becoming the first registered nurse elected to Congress and first Black chief psychiatric nurse at Dallas’ Veterans Affairs hospital. She went on to become the first Black woman to chair the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and she also led the Congressional Black Caucus. She left office in January 2023 after repeatedly delaying her retirement. Before Congress, she served in the Texas legislature.

“For three decades, Chairwoman Johnson was a powerful force in the United States Congress, always focused on the future,” House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi said in a statement, praising Johnson as “a tenacious trailblazer, a talented legislator and a devoted public servant.”

She was born in Waco and grew up in the segregated South. Dallas’ once-segregated Union Station was renamed in her honor in 2019.

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