The Honorable Nancy Lee Johnson
Known for her policy expertise and workhorse approach, Nancy Lee Johnson eventually became dean of the Connecticut delegation during her nearly quarter century in the House. She also stood out as the first Republican woman to serve on the Ways and Means Committee and as one of a handful of women to chair a full committee—Standards of Official Conduct (Ethics).
U.S. Representative from Connecticut (January 3, 1983-January 3, 2007)
Influenced by her mother, a high school history teacher and department chair, and her father, a law school dean, Nancy Lee Johnson’s political background grew from a family commitment to community activism. Building upon a successful career in the Connecticut state senate, Johnson came to the House in 1983 well-equipped to handle the rigors of Congress. She made history by becoming the first Republican woman to win a seat on the influential Ways and Means Committee and was one of a small number of women to chair a full House committee (Standards of Official Conduct). In her oral history, Johnson provides a behind-the-scenes look at committee work, including her approach to policy and legislation.
Johnson speaks about the role of women in the Republican Party and the changing position of moderates in Congress during the 24 years she served in the House. Known as a policy expert in the House, Johnson describes her efforts to secure legislation to help her Connecticut district, as well as bills aimed at improving the welfare of women and children. She also shares her impressions of the Congresswomen’s Caucus—including her time as co-chair—and the efforts of women to secure equitable resources in the institution such as the gym for women Members. By the end of her career, Johnson was one of the deans of the Congresswomen. Her interview reveals the different approaches available to women who served in Congress—in Johnson’s case as a Representative who worked within the system using seniority, personal relationships, and policy expertise to achieve success.
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On the Campaign Trail
"Freshmen Are to Be Seen but Not Heard"
"Those Machines Only Build Muscles"
Attracting the Interest of the Press
Balancing Family and Congress
"Rules of the Game"
Women's Perspectives and Committee Service
Ways and Means Subcommittee Chair
Women Representing Rural Districts
Women Members in Leadership
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