By EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON
U.S. House of Representatives
Last month, the constituents of Texas’ 30th Congressional District, as they have done every two years since 1992, placed their faith in me to represent them in the United States House of Representatives. For this – and for your overwhelming affection and support through the years – I am eternally grateful.
As the 116th Congress of the United States comes to a close, I am left to reflect upon its successes and shortcomings. This Congress was diverse, yet familiar; partisan, yet productive; isolated, yet unified. We welcomed in it the most racially and ethnically diverse incoming freshman class in history and said goodbye to giants of Congress like my good friends, the late Congressmen John Lewis and Elijah Cummings.
Out of this Congress was born legislation that will provide lasting benefits for generations to come. One such example is my National Suicide Hotline Designation Act. This bill will designate a three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to simplify access to this critical, life-saving resource, and was made public law Oct. 17 [PL 116-172]. Another is the HAVEN Act, passed and enacted into law on Aug. 23 [PL 116-52], with my support, which supports disabled veterans’ eligibility for relief during financial hardship.
This Congress also presented new opportunities to recognize and do right by heroes of our past. For the ‘Hidden Figures’ of NASA – the named and unnamed women whose immeasurable contributions to the U.S. Space Program propelled us to new heights – my Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act successfully honored the women with among highest civilian awards. In addition, for the 14th consecutive Congress, I introduced legislation commemorating Texas’ own, Doris ‘Dorie’ Miller, from my hometown of Waco, awarding him posthumously with the Medal of Honor for his heroics during the attack at Pearl Harbor.
In the face of a once-in-a-century global pandemic, the 116th Congress overcame several challenges to provide three substantial, unprecedented relief packages to the American people. Even if only for a time, these packages delivered vital financial, medical and educational resources to those families struggling with the consequences of COVID-19.
The 117th Congress will not be without its hardships. When we are sworn in on Jan. 3, 2021, we will inherit a stagnant economy, a public health crisis and a polarized political climate the likes of which have not been seen in a long time – yet I remain optimistic. For someone of my experience and tenure heading into my 15th term, I have seen the limitless good that can be achieved when we share a common faith. As resilient Texan-Americans, we cannot let the extent to which our ideas and values differ from one another to further create hostility and division. But rather, let us remain steadfast in our individual and collective hope that better days are ahead.
U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson is the chairwoman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, the first woman and first African American to hold the position. She represents the 30th Congressional District of Texas.