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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

Rep. Chet Edwards


About this Writer

Elected to his ninth term as the Congressman representing the 17th Congressional District of Texas in 2006, Congressman Chet Edwards proudly represents portions of North Texas, Central Texas and the Brazos Valley in Washington. Since first elected to the United States Congress in 1990, Chet has gained seniority and influence and is now one of the few House members to serve on both the House Budget and the Appropriations Committees.

Chet is a recognized leader for America's veterans in Congress. As Chairman of the House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, Chet authored legislation increasing the 2008 VA budget by $6.6 billion, the largest increase in the VA's 77-year history. Edwards’ bill was praised by veterans groups and he was honored with the Disabled American Veterans “Going to Bat for Veterans” award. Chet also serves on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee. He co-chairs the bi-partisan House Army Caucus and the USO Congressional Caucus.

During his tenure in Congress, Congressman Edwards has developed a reputation of working hard and effectively for Central Texas jobs and federal investments in Fort Hood, the Central Texas Veterans’ Health Care System, the A&M Medical School, Interstate 35, transportation and water resources, and university research programs at Baylor and Texas A&M Universities. Congressman Edwards’ proven record of hard work, combined with his 10 years of seniority on the powerful Appropriations Committee, put him in a position to fight effectively for jobs and vital education, health, transportation and water investments in the 17th District.

At the national level, Congressman Edwards has played a major leadership role in support of the U.S. Army, military families, veterans and homeland defense programs. In 2006, Congressman Edwards was honored with the Award of Merit, the highest award given by the Military Coalition, which represents 36 military and veteran groups. In 2003 the Association of the U.S. Army gave Congressman Edwards its "Legislator of the Year Award." In 2005, the Military Order of the Purple Heart awarded Edwards its national "Inspirational Leadership" award, given to only one member of Congress for work on important veterans’ issues.

Edwards has played a key leadership role in initiating the public/private military housing program which a Bush administration official called the "most important military housing improvement program in our nation's history". Serving as a member on the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, Edwards helps to oversee key homeland defense and university research programs to protect Americans from nuclear terrorism. Since less than 5% of the cargo coming into U.S. seaports is currently inspected, Edwards helped secure $84 million to the budget in 2003 to install radiological detectors at the busiest foreign ports, so nuclear materials can be detected overseas – before terrorists can get them to targets in America.

Congressman Edwards is known as a fiscal conservative who believes massive federal deficits and the $9 trillion national debt are harmful to our economy and morally wrong to pass on to our children and grand children. The non-partisan Concord Coalition has given him its "Deficit Hawk" Award. The U.S Chamber of Commerce has given Edwards their "Spirit of Enterprise" Award several times for his support of business, most recently in 2006. Congressman Edwards has also been recognized for his innovative, cooperative approaches to protecting private property rights and the environment.

As a lifelong person of faith, Chet has been honored by the Baptist Joint Committee and earned the Walter Cronkite Award from the Interfaith Alliance for his principled fight to keep government funding and regulations out of our churches and houses of worship. Congressman Edwards has also been honored with the T.B. Maston Christian Ethics Award.

Upon graduation from Texas A&M in 1974, Congressman Edwards received the Earl Rudder Award, given to two outstanding seniors. He then worked for 3 years for Congressman Olin E. "Tiger" Teague before earning an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

In the 1980’s, Congressman Edwards worked at the Trammell Crow Company in Commercial real estate; and owned and was the President of Edwards Communications, a rural radio station. From 1983 to 1989, Chet served in the Texas Senate. As a Member of the Senate Education Committee, he played an active role in reducing class sizes in Texas' public schools and was named one of Ten Outstanding Legislators" by Texas Monthly magazine.

Congressman Edwards and his wife, Lea Ann, along with their sons, J.T. (11) and Garrison (10) attend the Calvary Baptist Church in Waco.


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