WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, honored Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30), Chair of the House Space, Science and Technology Committee, at a ceremony unveiling Chair Johnson’s official portrait. Chair Johnson is retiring this year after 40 years in public service. She was the first African American and first woman to chair the House Science Committee and was a key negotiator with Sen. Cantwell in passing the historic CHIPS and Science Act. In honor of Chair Johnson’s commitment to STEM, the legislation honors her with the “Eddie Bernice Johnson INCLUDES Initiative” to help increase diversity and opportunities in STEM careers.
“She and I actually came into the House of Representatives together in 1992, the year of the woman,” Sen. Cantwell said during the event. “We thought it was great. We had 32 women in [Congress]. Today, there [are] 147. So we’re very proud to have been part of that early effort.
Sen. Cantwell delivered the following remarks at today’s ceremony:
Well, thank you, Bart. And thank you, Eddie Bernice. And thank you to all my House colleagues because it’s so great to be here for this very, very important occasion and to have Eddie Bernice’s family here as well. I would be remiss if I didn’t say [hi] to my colleagues, Representative Clyburn and Representative Lucas, since we also worked so hard together on this legislation.
But we’re here today to celebrate Eddie Bernice and the leadership that she’s provided to our nation and to make sure that we never forget those contributions.
She and I actually came into the House of Representatives together in 1992, the year of the woman. We thought it was great. We had 32 women in [Congress]. Today, there [are] 147. So we’re very proud to have been part of that early effort.
And we’re here to emphasize the importance of Eddie Bernice’s contributions to STEM education and to the passage of major legislation in the CHIPS and Science Act. You know, when we were putting this legislation together, part of the challenge was how do we attract more women and people of color into science. And the thing we heard over and over again from the research was you have to get people who look like them to attract them into the field.
And when I heard and remembered Eddie Bernice’s story, the fact that as a nursing student she had to travel to a nonsegregated state just to receive her nursing education. And then went on to provide the care, and the support, and the relief working in the health care field and with veterans and in mental health. I thought, this is the person who we need to put on a pedestal.
So we thought it was very appropriate in the legislation to name a key National Science Foundation program for increasing diversity in STEM, the “Eddie Bernice Johnson INCLUDES” program.
This program will continue to bear your name, to tell your story, to attract the next generation of STEM women, and to be a reminder to our colleagues of all the STEM legislation that you have helped pass, including the bipartisan Minority Serving Institutions STEM Achievement Act and the bipartisan STEM Opportunity Act. We have to do more, but every time we get tired, we’re going to come in this room and look at this portrait and we’re going to say, there was our champion!
Thank you, Eddie Bernice. Thank you.
To watch the ceremony, click here.