Vice President Harris on Monday lauded the late Texas Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson, the first registered nurse elected to the House of Representatives, who died Sunday at age 88.
“Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson was a visionary, a pioneer, and a fighter,” Harris wrote in a statement.
Harris — the first woman, first Black person and first Indian American elected to the vice presidency — recounted Johnson’s firsts, as someone who “witnessed and experienced the profound effects of segregation and decided she would not stay on the sidelines in the fight for justice.”
Johnson was the first Black chief psychiatric nurse at the Dallas Veterans Affairs Hospital, the first Black woman elected to public office in Dallas, the first Black person to represent Dallas in Congress, the first registered nurse elected to the House and the first person of color and first woman to chair the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
Johnson, who was born in 1935, was elected to the Texas House in 1972, to the Texas Senate in 1987 and to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992.
She served in the House until her retirement at the end of the last Congress, leaving office on Jan. 3, 2023.
Johnson served as the dean of the House — the oldest member in office — for more than a year, following the death of Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) in March 2022.
Harris touted Johnson’s approach to public service as “always clear-eyed about what she was fighting for: the right of every person in Dallas and across the country to live free from discrimination and to have the opportunity to live up to their full potential.”
Harris also touted Johnson’s work in the chamber, from her committee work to her role in passing recent legislation such as the CHIPS and Science Act.
“I had the privilege to serve alongside her in the Congressional Black Caucus and know that so many have benefited from her tireless work, myself included. Her legacy and leadership will be felt for generations to come,” Harris wrote.
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