Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT)

Congressional Arts Leadership
2000

Congresswoman Nancy Johnson has been a strong and consistent supporter or the arts during her 17-year tenure in the House of Representatives for Connecticut's sixth congressional district. She believes that supporting the arts is a sound cultural investment and good economic policy. Through her leadership as co-founder of the Tuesday Lunch Bunch, an influential caucus of House moderate Republicans, she has proven to be instrumental in gaining bipartisan congressional support for the arts. In 1998, facing enormous pressure from House leaders to eliminate all federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, Johnson emerged as a GOP arts leader when she spearheaded an amendment to modify procedural rules enabling a fair "up or down" vote to restore funding to the NEA, which had just been zeroed out minutes earlier. This important maneuver paved the way for an overwhelming number of House members to finally have the opportunity to declare their support for the NEA and to help prevent biased procedural rules from blocking future floor votes in support of the agency. As a coalition-builder, she initiated a series of congressional sign-on letters to build support for the arts, culminating with 58 House moderate Republicans crossing party lines to increase their vocal support of the arts.

On the heels of five tumultuous years of congressional culture wars, Johnson now actively seeks to significantly augment federal funding for the arts in the United States. As a founding member of the Congressional Arts Caucus, she co-sponsored, along with the caucus chairs, a bipartisan amendment to increase funding for the NEA in 1999. As the first Republican female member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Johnson has also championed causes ranging from education issues to reducing taxes, from saving Social Security to tougher environmental legislation. While Congresswoman Johnson's political career began when she ran for the Connecticut State Senate in 1976, her commitment to the arts began much earlier as a volunteer at the New Britain Museum of American Arts. Born in Chicago and a graduate of Radcliffe College, she is married with three daughters.