Robert Eckhardt

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Robert (Bob) Eckhardt , 1913 - 2001 was a Texas Congressman.

Texas progressive

He held us together and gave us courage at a very dark time," said Maury Maverick of his friend and colleague Bob Eckhardt, who died Nov. 13, 2001 of a cerebral stroke. Before he was elected to the state House in 1958, Eckhardt -- then one of the first labor lawyers in Texas -- would travel from Houston to consult with the handful of progressive Texas House members during "the worst period of the McCarthy era."

"He was an inspiration to us at a lonely time," said Maverick, himself a House member during the Legislature's period of anti-Communist hysteria, when they declared even membership in the Communist Party a capital offense.

He came by his honest and unwavering democratic principles directly, says Maverick, as a descendant of some of the earliest Hill Country German settlers in Travis and Bexar Counties. "He was proud of his German ancestors," said Maverick. "They were freethinkers who were against war, and opposed slavery. We talked about that a lot." Summing up his friend and his spirit, Maverick said, "He belongs in the company of Sam Houston."[1]

Congress

Eckhardt became a seven-term U.S. Rep. from Houston (1967--1981), one of the Democratic Study Group Six who opposed fellow Texan Lyndon B. Johnson's steady escalation of the Vietnam War, and the only member of the Texas delegation to consistently call for a unilateral withdrawal from Vietnam. He sponsored and passed the War Powers Act -- a still-unsuccessful attempt to force the executive branch to consult Congress, as required by law, before declaring war. In recent years, Eckhardt had been working on a book titled Who Determines War?, in which he analyzed the use and abuse of the War Powers Act by subsequent U.S. Presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. At the time of his death, he was studying the current Bush administration's indifference to constitutional issues of war and peace.[2]

Supported by DSA

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In 1980, according to a 1982 report to National DSA Houston Democratic Socialists of America did mailouts and phone calls for Congressman Eckhardt's campaign.[3]

IVI-IPO

In 1981 Robert Eckhardt was a Vice President of Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization[4].

IPS 20th Anniversary Committee

According to Information Digest[5]the Institute for Policy Studies celebrated its 20th anniversary with an April 5, 1983, reception at the National Building Museum attended by approximately 1,000 IPS staffers and former staff.

The Congressional IPS comittee members included Les Aspin {D. WI}, George Brown, Jr. (D.CA}, Philip Burton (D.CA), George Crockett (D-MI}, Ron Dellums (D.CA}, former Texas Congressman Robert Eckhardt, Don Edwards {D.CA}, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, Tom Harkin {D-IA}, Robert Kastenmeier (D. WI}, Chairman of the Subcomittee on Courts, Civil Liberties and the Administration of Justice, George Miller (D-CA}, Richard Ottinger {D-NY}, Leon Panetta (D-CA}, Henry Reuss (D.WI}, Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, Patricia Schroeder {D.CO}, John Seiberling (D.OH} and Ted Weiss {D.NY}.

Funeral

At Eckhardt's funeral Nov. 17, writer Molly Ivins, Rep. Lloyd Doggett, and AFL-CIO President Joe Gunn, among many others, eulogized the man Gunn remembered as having fought heroically for Texas working people, of having always defended the principle that "dignity is a right, not a privilege."[6]

References