In 28 years of public service, Chet Edwards has made a positive difference for Texas and our nation.  As a Texas State Senator from 1983 to 1990 and as a U.S. Representative from 1991 to 2010, he earned the reputation of a bipartisan leader and champion of America’s military troops, veterans and their families. As a private citizen, he continues that service as a Board Member of the Military Child Education Coalition and as a Member of the Army National Cemeteries Advisory Commission, which is helping develop a long-term plan for the future of Arlington National Cemetery.

Born in 1951 in Corpus Christi, Texas, Edwards is the son of a World War II naval aviator.  He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Economics from Texas A&M University in 1974. Upon graduation, he received the Earl Rudder Award, given to two outstanding seniors. He then worked three years as a congressional aide to Congressman Olin E. “Tiger” Teague before earning a MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1981.

In 1982, at the age of 30, Edwards was elected as the youngest Member of the Texas State Senate, where he served from 1983 to 1990. He was known as a champion for education, high technology economic development and veterans, and Texas seniors and was named “One of Ten Outstanding Legislators” by Texas Monthly.

Click here to read more about Edwards’ Years at Texas A&M and in the Texas Senate

Congressman Edwards graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Economics from Texas A&M University in 1974. Upon graduation, he received the Earl Rudder Award, given to two outstanding seniors. He then worked for 3 years as a Congressional Aide for Congressman Olin E. “Tiger” Teague, who was the most highly decorated World War II veteran in Congress and was known for 32 years as “Mr. Veteran” in Congress. At the age of 26, Edwards was encouraged by Congressman Teague to become his successor in 1978. Congressman Edwards narrowly lost by 115 votes in the Democratic primary to Phil Gramm, but then went on to earn an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

In the 1980′s, Congressman Edwards worked at the Trammell Crow Company in commercial real estate. Additionally, he owned and was the President of Edwards Communications, which owned a rural radio station in South Texas.

In 1982, at the age of 30, Edwards was elected as the youngest Member of the Texas State Senate, where he served from 1983 to 1990. He served on the Senate Committees on Education, State Affairs and Health and Human Resources and chaired the Senate Nominations Committee. He has also chaired two special committees: the Texas Election Code Revision Committee and the Committee on Business, Technology and Education. Lt. Governor Bill Hobby appointed Edwards chairman of the Texas Sunset Commission, a joint House/Senate Commission that reviews all state agencies every 12 years to determine whether they should be abolished or streamlined.

Edwards was an effective legislator for Central Texas, and during his tenure in the Senate, nearly 50% of the bills that Edwards authored or sponsored passed the Senate. Edwards authored and passed legislation to protect consumers’ rights and diversify the Texas economy through developing Texas’ high tech research infrastructure. On the Committee on Education, he was a key figure in reducing K-12 class sizes and killing a proposal that would have allowed state colleges and universities to double their tuition rates. In addition, Edwards fought to keep electric utility rates down and improve health care services for the elderly. While chairing the special committee on Texas Election code, Edwards initiated and played a key role in passing the early Presidential Primary law in Texas and updated state election laws.

Awards

  • 1972- 1973: Chair of the 18th Student Conference on National Affairs (SCONA)
  • 2000: Elected as Councilman-at-large on the A&M Association of Former Students Council
  • Texas Outstanding Public Service Award by the Texas Chamber of Commerce
  • 1985: Ten Best Legislators by Texas Monthly
  • 1985: Five Outstanding Young Texans Award by the Texas Jaycees
  • 1983: Three Outstanding Freshman Legislators by Texas Business
  • 1981: Texas Hero Award by the Texas Chamber of Commerce
  • 1974: Earl Rudder/Brown Foundation Award— given to two top graduating seniors at Texas A&M
  • 1974: Thomas Rountree Award— given to the top student in the Memorial Student Center
  • 1974: Thomas Gathright Award— given to an Outstanding senior in the college of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M
  • 1973-1974: Executive Vice President Vice President of the Memorial Student Center Council and Directorate

Congressman Edwards is a nationally recognized champion for America’s veterans, our troops and their families. Having represented Fort Hood, the world’s largest Army base, Edwards played a major leadership role in supporting the U.S. Army, military families, and Congressman Edwards is a nationally recognized champion for America’s veterans, our troops and their families. Having represented Fort Hood, the world’s largest Army base, Edwards played a major leadership role in supporting the U.S. Army, military families, and homeland defense programs. He was the co-chair of the House Army caucus for over a decade and served on the House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committees for six years (1991-1997) before becoming a Member of the House Appropriations Committee.

When Edwards became the Chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee in 2007, he authored the largest increase in veterans funding in the history of the Veterans Administration.  Chairman Edwards also played a key role in crafting the 21st Century GI Bill of Rights, and wrote the 2009 law that provides full GI Bill college scholarships to every child who has lost a parent in military service since September 11, 2001. The Sgt. John David Fry Scholarship was inspired by the heroic sacrifice of an Iraq war veteran from Edwards’ district— a Marine with a wife and three small children.

Click here to read more about Edwards’ Work and Accomplishments for our Troops, Veterans and Their Families

Having represented Fort Hood, the world’s largest Army installation, Edwards played a major leadership role in supporting the U.S. Army, military families, and homeland defense programs. From 2007-2010, he chaired the House Appropriation Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs which made historic progress in supporting our troops, veterans and their families. During his tenure, the subcommittee and Congress took unprecedented steps in improving military housing, health care, day care and education.

 

Major Accomplishments for Veterans During Edwards’ Chairmanship of the House Appropriation Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (2007-2010)

  • Authored a long overdue 70% increase to the VA’s discretionary budget over four years, by far the largest ever increase in VA funding.
  • Increased funding to the Veterans Health Administration, which has resulted in an additional 3,389 doctors, 14,316 nurses, 145 Community-Based Outpatient Clinics, 92 new Vet Centers, and 70 mobile Vet Centers.
  • Co-authored the historic 21st Century GI Bill, which provides tuition assistance, educational materials, and housing assistance for our newest generation of veterans.
  • Authored the first ever two-year, advance appropriations bill for the three VA medical accounts, resulting in a stable and uninterrupted source of funding for VA medical care a year in advance.
  • Added 10,200 new VA jobs to process disability claims – resulting in a 70% increase in claims processed (from 774,378 claims processed in 2006 to 1,318,753 projected in 2011).
  • Re-opened the Priority 8 enrollment for VA health care for non-service-connected veterans with modest incomes.  The VA is now serving 292,000 veterans previously ineligible for VA health care.
  • Increased reimbursement for veterans’ travel to VA health facilities from 11 cents per mile to 41.5 cents per mile, the first increase since 1979.
  • Authored a 43% increase in VA health care research.
  • Authored the first VA polytrauma treatment center in the southwestern region of the United States in San Antonio, Texas.
  • More than doubled funding for the VA Homeless Grant and Per Diem Program
  • Began payments to over 153,000 veterans and their survivors for presumptive disability claims associated with Agent Orange exposure in Viet Nam.
  • Helped pass the Family Caregivers Act to provide family members with stipends, travel, lodging, training, and counseling to care for their loved ones at home.  The Act also strengthens services for 1.8 million women veterans and creates programs to treat veterans struggling with post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.
  • Increased resources to the Rural Health Initiative to better serve the more than 3.2 million veterans living in rural areas who do not have easy access to VA hospitals.

Major Edwards Accomplishments for Military Families (2007-2010)

  • Edwards’ Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funded several key initiatives to improve the quality of life for our military and their families including:  six new military hospitals, new child care centers to serve 20,000 military children, and additional funding for barracks which include improvements in military training barracks.
  • According to Department of Defense historical data, Edwards’ subcommittee invested more in military construction than in any comparable period since 1948.

National Guard and Reserve Initiatives (2007-2010)

  • Edwards authored in 2009 a new National Guard and Reserve military construction initiative for the highest unfunded military construction priorities of the commanders of the reserve components of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.
  • Authored the largest single appropriation for Guard and Reserve military construction since at least 1964.

Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship Program for Children of Fallen Heroes (2009)

The service of America’s military families during wartime is a powerful example of personal sacrifice. Military parents put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect our nation while their children anxiously await their return at home. One such parent was decorated Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry of Lorena, Texas, an explosives specialist serving in Iraq. On March 8, 2006 after being cleared to return home, Sergeant Fry, a husband and father of three children under the age of 10, volunteered to defuse three explosive devices in Anbar province. Fry, who had saved countless lives by disarming over 70 IEDs, was killed that night by a booby trapped IED, less than 7 days before his scheduled return home.

After Edwards met Fry’s widow and three small children, he was deeply moved by the depth of their sacrifice and inspired to find a way to honor the Fry family and all military families. In 2009, Edwards wrote the new law that provides GI Bill college education scholarships and benefits to all children of U.S. service members who have died while serving on active duty since September 11, 2001. Edwards named the new benefit the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship in honor of the Fry family.

Other Edwards Accomplishments for Military Troops and their Families

  • As co-chair of the House Army Caucus, Edwards led the fight in the 1990s to create an innovative, new public-private military family housing program, which the George W. Bush Administration called “the most important military housing improvement program in American history.”  That program is now used for more than 90% of all new military family housing.
  • Authored legislation to protect and preserve Pointe Du Hoc in Normandy, France, the site of Lt. Colonel Earl Rudder’s 2nd Ranger Battalion D-Day attack on the 100 foot cliffs and 5 German 155mm guns, a mission considered vital for the success of the D-Day invasion. On June 6, 2011 the site officially re-opened for the first time in a decade. Prior to Edwards’ legislation, the American Battle Monuments Commission had testified that the historic site of Pointe Du Hoc was expected to be lost to wind and sea erosion.
  • In 2004-2005, Edwards introduced legislation to double life insurance payments under the Service members Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program. While Edwards’ legislation would have doubled benefits to $500,000, Congress finally accepted an increase in insurance benefits from $250,000 to $400,000 and an increase in the death gratuity from $12,000 to $100,000.
  • In 2003, Edwards pushed his colleagues to pass the stalled Armed Forces Tax Fairness Act/ Military Family Tax Relief Act which would eliminate the taxes on the death gratuity paid to survivors and allow military personnel to count time spent away from their home on military orders as time spent in-residence when determining the capital gains taxes. The legislation passed the House and was signed into law later that year.
  • In 2000, Edwards led the successful fight to reverse a Department of Defense plan to cut the Basic Allowance for Housing provided to military families.  In 2003, Edwards led the successful floor fight against Pentagon proposals to cut Family Separation and Imminent Danger pays for troops overseas – proposals that would have cost military families up to $225/month.
  • Beginning in the 1990s, Edwards created the House Military Impact Aid Coalition and led the fight for increased federal funding for local public schools serving military children. Killeen Independent School District which Edwards represented for 14 years, serves nearly 20,000 military children and over 2,500 children of Fort Hood employees. Copperas Cove Independent School District serves almost 3,000 military children and another 1,000 children whose parents work on post.
  • Edwards authored the law that prevents public universities from assessing out-of-state tuition on the children of military families who are attending in-state colleges when their parents are re-assigned to military installations in different states.
  • In the 1990s, Edwards successfully worked with his colleagues in the House to fund the “Troops to Teachers” program to help retiring military troops pursue teaching careers.
  • Co-Chairman of the bipartisan House Army Caucus for over 10 years.
  • Co-Chairman of the House USO Caucus.

Military and Veterans Awards  

Because of his commitment to our men and women in uniform, Congressman Edwards has been honored with dozens of awards including:

  • 2011 American Legion Distinguished Service Medal (previous recipients include:  General Colin Powell; Senator Robert Dole; President George H.W. Bush; President George W. Bush and General David Petraeus)
  • 2010 Honorary Member of the Order of Military Medical Merit for Exemplary Contribution to the United States Army Medical Department
  • 2010 U.S. National Guard Bureau Minuteman Award
  • 2009 AMVETS Congressional Silver Helmet Award
  • 2009 U.S. Army Commander’s Award for Civilian Service
  • 2009 U.S. Navy Distinguished Public Service Award
  • 2009 Fleet Reserve Association Pinnacle Award
  • 2008 American Legion Public Service Award
  • 2008 VFW Congressional Award
  • 2008 National Coalition for Homeless Veterans Congressional Award
  • 2007 Texas Military Order of the Purple Heart Award
  • 2007 “Going to Bat for Veterans” Award from the Disabled American Veterans
  • 2007 “Platinum Award” from the American Psychiatric Association for support of PTSD research
  • 2007 Congressional Achievement Award from the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)
  • 2006 Military Coalition Marix Award of Merit
  • 2006 Charles Dick Medal of Merit from the National Guard Association
  • 2006 Exemplary Legislator from the National Association of Mental Illness’ Veterans Council
  • 2005 Military Order of the Purple Heart’s National Inspirational Leadership Award for work in Congress on important veterans’ issues
  • 2004 Support of Military Families Award from The National Military Family Association (NMFA).The award recognizes service and dedication to improving the quality of life for uniformed service members and their families
  • 2004 Unsung Hero Award — American Legion
  • 2004 Meritorious Service Award — American Legion
  • 2004 “Going to Bat for Veterans” Award– National Disabled American Veterans
  • 2004 Champion for Children – Military Impacted Schools Association
  • 2003 Harry S. Truman Award—National Association of Federally Impacted Schools
  • 2003 The Association of the US Army Legislator of the Year
  • 2002 Quality of Life Award from the USO
  • 1996 L. Mendel Rivers Award of Excellence from the Air Force Sergeants Association for stopping the plan to reduce military retirement pay
  • 1996 True Champion for Military School Children” Award by the National Military Impacted Schools Association (MISA)
  • 1995 “Friend of Impact Aid” Award from the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS)
  • 1995 “National Security Leadership Award” from the American Security Council
  • 1993 Citation of Merit from the Disabled American Veterans

Edwards represented the most Republican district in the nation held by a Democrat and developed a reputation as an independent leader who put his district and constituents above partisan politics. Edwards’ proven record of hard work, combined with his years of seniority on the powerful Appropriations Committee, put him in a position to fight effectively for jobs and vital education, health, agriculture, transportation and water investments in Texas.

Click here to read more about Edwards’ Work for Texas Families

For over two decades, Chet Edwards has been a strong voice for issues important to Texas families, including improving education, expanding children’s health care, securing our homeland and protecting Medicare and Social Security benefits for Texas’ seniors.  As an independent-minded voice for Texas, Edwards crossed party lines in his first vote in Congress in 1991 when he supported George H.W. Bush’s authority to go to war after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

In Congress, Congressman Edwards was known as a fiscal conservative who fought against massive federal deficits. In the 1990s, he voted for budgets that led to surpluses and opposed irresponsible budgets in the 2000s that turned those surpluses into massive deficits. To get spending and deficits under control, he wrote the provisions that made the 2010 pay-go law a permanent law, rather than a temporary, 4-year law.to help reduce spending and return Congress to the proven budget policies that helped balance the budget in the late 1990s. He consistently supported the Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment, which would put a halt to deficit spending, except in times of national emergency. The non-partisan Concord Coalition has given him both the “Deficit Hawk” and “Fiscal Responsibility” Award.

Edwards has a long history of working to tackle the challenges that exist in education and children’s health care. Congressman Edwards pushed for increased access to health care for children of working families under the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) and was a strong supporter of Head Start program. Edwards proudly represented thousands of students across his district from eight institutes of higher education including Baylor University and Texas A&M University, the seventh largest university in the nation. Throughout his tenure in Congress, Edwards worked to cut interest rates on student loans, increase funding for Pell Grants, strengthen funding for College Work Study, and expanded higher education tax credits, because he strongly believes that each hard-working student, regardless of his or her financial situation, deserves an opportunity for a college education.

His pro-economic, pro-agriculture record earned him endorsements from both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Texas Farm Bureau Agfund.  Edwards received the “Guardian of Small Business Award” from the National Federation of Independent Business for supporting America’s small businesses, and the U.S Chamber of Commerce gave him their “Spirit of Enterprise” Award for his support of business.

As a senior Member of the Appropriations Committee, Edwards wrote laws to secure our ports and borders. In addition to his work on nuclear non-proliferation, Edwards helped write the laws that have added over 9,000 border patrol agents, constructed practical and effective fencing along the Southern border, supported an electronic employee verification system and restructure Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s budget to target aliens with dangerous criminal convictions.

While working to reduce spending and the deficit, Edwards fought to ensure federal tax dollars were returned home to Texas for important government investments for our veterans, national defense and for critical infrastructure in our communities.  Partnering with community leaders, Congressman Chet Edwards worked to protect local jobs, spur economic growth and new job creation, and improve the quality of life in each region of the district. From 2006-2010, Edwards had an impact on over 11,150 jobs in the twelve county region of TX-17.

Over 2,000 jobs have been created as a direct result of projects supported by community leaders and funded by Edwards from 2006 to 2010. In 2010, independent economic impact research and business studies estimated that more than 6,050 jobs would be created by major economic development projects that he has supported. Additionally, Edwards worked to save over 1,150 jobs through his work with federal agencies.

Click below to read more about how Chet has helped our communities and working families:

[Close]

 

Bell

Before Congressional redistricting in 2004, Congressman Edwards represented Bell County and Coryell County for fourteen years and Ft. Hood through three major combat deployments. With the help of the Army, the Veteran’s Administration and local leaders, Congressman Edwards’ work in Congress will benefit Bell County for years to come.

In 2002, Edwards successfully passed legislation, the Texas Field of Honor Act, which transferred 174 acres of land at Fort Hood to the Texas Veterans Land Board to be used for the Central Texas State Veteran’s Cemetery. The construction of the cemetery was made possible through the coordination of area veterans groups, the City of Killeen, and funds secured by Edwards. The first internment was in January 2006.

In the early 2000s, Edwards secured funding for several key transportation projects including I-35, State Highway 201 in Killeen and Leon River Bridge over Lake Belton.

In 2001, Edwards worked with the U.S. Army to establish the Temple Airport as a processing site for UH-1 “Huey” helicopters that are coming out of service and which may be designated for foreign military sales or international humanitarian operations.

In 1999, Edwards authored construction on the world-class cardiovascular research center at Temple VA. This was the only VA research construction project funded in the nation that year.

In 1998, Edwards authored and passed legislation that allowed for the transformation of Fort Hood’s Robert Gray Army Airfield into a joint-use regional airport. He went on to obtain tens of millions of dollars for the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport, an economic hub for the region.

In 1998, Edwards worked with the VA and Texas officials to move forward on the Texas Veterans Nursing Home in Temple.

In 1994, Edwards helped secure funding for the expansion and modernization of the Olin E. Teague VA Medical Center in Temple.

In 1993, Edwards was instrumental in the passage of the Troops to Teachers program that helps retiring military personnel become teachers.

In 1992, Edwards passed legislation allowing the transfer of 73 acres from the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Temple College. The transfer was completed in August 1994.

While representing Bell County, Edwards obtained funds for Lake Belton, White Flint Park and Stillhouse Hollow Lake for maintenance and modernization.

While in Congress, Edwards consistently led the fight against any cuts to Impact Aid which is an essential education program that helps over 1,300 school districts in the United States meet the costs of educating military dependent children. In 2011, Killeen ISD served nearly 20,000 military children and Copperas Cove ISD served almost 3,000 military children.

Bosque

With the help of local leaders, Congressman Edwards’ work in Congress will benefit Bosque County for years to come.

Edwards brokered the landmark agreement between Clifton and Meridian to build a water pipeline between the two cities. Beginning in 2000, Edwards brought in funding for construction of the pipeline, which currently allows Meridian and Clifton to have a stable water supply.

Throughout his tenure in Congress, Edwards ensured that Lake Whitney continued to serve Central Texas as recreation destination for Texas families. Edwards obtained funding which allow the Corps of Engineers to maintain and modernize recreation areas, to upgrade the dam and to support maintenance at the lake. Additionally, he supported a multiphase upgrade to Kimball Bend Park.

In 2009, Edwards worked with the Hill College Bosque County Campus to purchase vocational education equipment.

In 2008, Edwards helped Goodall-Witcher Hospital in Clifton purchase new healthcare technology. In 2004, Edwards obtained funding to modernize the emergency area to accommodate the growth in outpatient services.

In the early 2000s, Edwards stepped in with federal agencies to ensure seniors in Central Texas have access to the care they deserve.  He wrote letters of support that allowed the expansion of the Sunset Lutheran Nursing Home.  

 

Brazos

With the help of local leaders, Congressman Edwards’ work in Congress will benefit Brazos County for years to come.

In 2009, Edwards partnered with local leaders to help secure a federal grant from Economic Development Administration (EDA) to construct the Next Generation Industrial Park that will create Brazos Valley jobs for years to come.

When Edwards became Chairman of the House Appropriation Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, he authored historic VA budgets that allowed for a new Army Reserve Center in Brazos County.  In 2010, construction began at the new center which will conduct and support training for three Army Reserve units.

Edwards worked with Texas A&M and Secretary Max Cleland to preserve and reopen the historic World War II battle site Pointe du Hoc in France. Pointe du Hoc has been closed to the public since 2001 due to dangers posed by 60 years of coastal and wind erosion, and is the site where Lt. Col. James Earl Rudder led the 2nd Ranger Battalion up 90-foot cliffs during D-Day. Pointe du Hoc officially reopened to the public in June 2011.

  • Recognizing Texas A&M as a pillar of the Brazos Valley, Edwards secured $232 million for defense, agriculture and homeland security projects at Texas A&M that were not in presidential budgets. These funds have created nearly 500 jobs at Texas A&M and have worked to:
  • Develop new technology for the detection of chemical and biological agents
  • Protect high value commercial and military satellites
  • Expand the Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute for nuclear non-proliferation efforts
  • Research selected zoonotic diseases that pose catastrophic risks to human health, livestock health and the national agricultural economy
  • Train law enforcement personnel with active shooter tactics through the ALERRT program
  • Eliminate pathogens from food and water without chemicals
  • Enhance the sustainability of irrigation in rural communities
  • Revegetate the training acreage for soldiers at Fort Hood
  • Make biofuel production more efficient
  • Assist school personnel in preventing and responding to violent attacks in the school environment
  • Train and educate Texas law enforcement and justice system personnel on forensic science procedures

Each year, Edwards increased resources to National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC) which is critical in helping our emergency responders to prevent, protect against, respond to and recover from an all hazards incident of national importance.

While representing Brazos County, Edwards worked to enhance safety, alleviate congestion and improve road quality, on key local transportation projects including:

  • Widening the Old Reliance Road bridge
  • Constructing an overpass at Barron Road and Earl Rudder Interchange
  • Widening University Drive (FM 60)
  • Constructing frontage roads on Earl Rudder Freeway (SH 6)
  • Resurfacing University Drive, SH 21, FM 1179, and FM 2347

Since 2005, Edwards obtained federal funding for the Brazos Transit District.  This has funded the construction of an intermodal transit terminal and parking facility in downtown Bryan, as well as replaced aging transit vehicles to service the population within the District’s service area.

In 2008, Edwards helped to resolve billing problems between the College Station Medical Center and the VA which left veterans with bills in collections. Additionally, Edwards assisted the community health center in College Station gain federal health center status, helping to lower costs while increasing quality.

In 2006 and 2009, Edwards worked closely with United States Postal Service (USPS) to prevent the closure of the Bryan Postal Distribution Center and Kurten Post Office, saving dozens of jobs.

In the 2000s, Edwards included language to ensure that Easterwood Airport Tower would have the surveillance radar coverage necessary to identify aircrafts with or without electronic identification equipment. Additionally, Edwards united with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison to ensure the rehabilitation of Runway 16-34 at Easterwood.

In 2004, Edwards aided in the creation of a new facility at the Center of Excellence in Family Medicine and Rural Primary Care by Brazos Valley Family Medical Center that currently provides technological support for rural hospitals and medical professionals.

 

Burleson

With the help of local leaders, Congressman Edwards’ work in Congress will benefit Burleson County for years to come.

In 2009-2010, Burleson County experienced severe power outages after Hurricane Ike passed through Texas. Because of Edwards’ work to secure disaster funding in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, Burleson County was able to install permanent generators to deal with future outages in a natural disaster.

In order to enhance safety, alleviate congestion and improve road quality, Edwards’ supported legislation to widen of FM 60 from FM 540 to Old River in Snook in 2009.

 

Fort Hood

In his twenty years in Congress, Congressman Chet Edwards earned a reputation as a fierce advocate for Ft. Hood. He was considered a leader in the House of Representatives on issues affecting military families and veterans. Before Congressional redistricting in 2004, Congressman Edwards represented Bell County and Coryell County for fourteen years and Ft. Hood through three major combat deployments.  He worked tirelessly with local officials and the Army to ensure Fort Hood remained a major installation. Throughout his twenty years in Congress, Edwards has succeeded in funding over two billion dollars of projects towards Fort Hood housing, health care, and military construction projects to improve the quality of life for soldiers and their families.

In 2009, as Chairman of House Appropriation Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Edwards authored the legislation that allowed for construction on the new Darnall Army Medical Center. The new hospital will serve 55,000 active duty soldiers and the nearly 180,000 TRICARE eligible beneficiaries in the area. Construction began on this state of the art facility in the spring of 2011 and the Army Corps of Engineers projects that the new Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center will open for patient care in the summer of 2015.

From 2000-2010, Edwards obtained funding to improve the quality of life for soldiers and their families for the following facilities:

  • Primary Care Clinic and Blood Donor Facility
  • Consolidated Troop and Family Care Medical Clinic
  • Women’s Health Services’ Center
  • Child Development Center
  • Chapel with Education Center
  • Family Life Center
  • Physical Fitness Center

From 2004-2009, Edwards collaborated with the Army, Texas A&M University, local and state officials to ensure the creation of Texas A&M Central Texas in Killeen. In 2004, Edwards successfully added language to 2005 National Defense Authorization Act which authorized the transfer of the land from Fort Hood to the A&M System. The land was officially transferred in 2009 and the construction on the new facilities began in 2009.

As co-chairman of the bipartisan House Army Caucus, Edwards led efforts in Congress that stopped the Department of Defense from cutting two divisions of the Army in 2001.  An eight division Army would have led to a very different future for Fort Hood.

In the 1990s, Edwards led the fight to develop an innovative Army housing program, the Residential Communities Initiative (RCI), which put $300 million into the renovation and construction of nearly 6,000 Army family houses at Fort Hood. The George W. Bush Administration called RCI “the most important military housing improvement program in American history,” and it is now used for more than 90% of all new military family housing.

In addition to his work on the Residential Communities Initiative, Edwards fought for nearly $500 million in housing for soldiers and their families from 1995-2010.

In the early 1990s, Edwards collaborated with the Army leadership to bring the 4th Infantry Division to Fort Hood and fought to keep Fort Hood a two-division post when the 2nd Armored Division was inactivated after the first Gulf War.

From 2000-2010, Edwards helped to secure funding to make Fort Hood a first class military installation that allowed for construction of the following facilities:

  • Force XXI Soldier Development Center
  • CH-47 Chinook Maintenance Hangar
  • Combined Arms Training Facility
  • Automated Multipurpose Machine Gun Range
  • Digital Training Range
  • Numerous Command and Control Facilities

 

Grimes

With the help of local leaders, Congressman Edwards’ work in Congress will benefit Grimes County for years to come.

While representing Grimes County, Edwards’ worked to enhance safety, alleviate congestion and improve road quality, on key local transportation projects including: CR 172, CR 302 and three local county bridges.

In 2009-2010, Burleson County experienced severe power outages after Hurricane Ike passed through Texas. Because of Edwards’ work to secure disaster funding in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, Burleson County was able to install permanent generators to deal with future outages in a natural disaster.

In partnership with the Grimes County Sheriff and Navasota Police Department, Edwards helped to upgrade their communication technology to ensure quicker response times between the different departments. He also helped the Sheriff’s department make firearms safer and more accessible with the purchase of new patrol car gun locks.

Edwards secured critical funding to St. Josephs Health Center in Navasota for renovations in the emergency room and installation of a new technology which now allows the staff to safely monitor more patients.

Beginning in 2004, Edwards collaborated with local leaders in Bedias and College Station, USDA Rural Development, and Texas Water Development Board to help a construct new sewer and water systems in Bedias. Construction on the city’s first public and private wastewater system began in March 2011.

 

Hill

With the help of local leaders, Congressman Edwards’ work in Congress will benefit Hill County for years to come.

Throughout his tenure in Congress, Edwards obtained funding to ensure that Lake Whitney and Lake Aquilla continued to serve Central Texas as recreation destination for Texas families. Edwards secured funding which allowed the Corps of Engineers to modernize recreation areas, to upgrade the dam and to support maintenance at the lakes. Additionally, he supported a multiphase upgrade to Kimball Bend Park and worked with the Army Corps of Engineers to keep Walling Bend Park open.

Throughout his twenty years in Congress, Edwards worked to enhance safety, improve road quality, and expand I-35. Key local transportation projects included:

  • Expand Loop 180 in Whitney from FM 933/ FM 1713 to FM 933 South
  • Widen the White Bluff intersection in Whitney

In 2010, Edwards was a key partner in the expansion of the Hillsboro City Park. He obtained funds to add multi-use trails, picnic shelters, and nature/wildlife viewing areas to the Hillsboro Scenic and Historic Parks Project.

From 2005-2010, Edwards worked with local officials on downtown redevelopment. Specifically, Edwards secured funding for Hillsboro Business Park Infrastructure upgrades, streetscape improvement funds and wastewater and sewer infrastructure.

Beginning in 2005, Edwards supported the Hill County GEAR UP program which is a comprehensive, collaborative initiative designed to help send more at-risk students to college by preparing them academically for higher education.

 

Hood

With the help of local leaders, Congressman Edwards’ work in Congress will benefit the Hood County for years to come.

While representing Hood County, Edwards was committed to protecting Lake Granbury through supporting numerous water quality initiatives.

As Vice-Chairman of the House Energy Appropriations Committee, Edwards supported the energy bill that authorized the Nuclear Loan Guarantees that make its expansion at Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant possible. Comanche Peak currently employs 1,100 people, and the expansion of the plant will add 500 permanent jobs to the plant. Comanche Peak Expansion is projected to generate over 6,200 permanent jobs throughout Texas upon the completion of the plant.

When county and region leaders expressed safety concerns about US 377, Edwards secured federal funding towards the widening of US 377. This funding will be used to complete the project once state dollars have been contributed.

In 2009, Edwards worked with community leaders to obtain federal funding for a stoplight at the entrance to City of DeCordova Bend Estates, making the entrance safer for residents.

In 2005, Edwards supported federal funding to extend the Granbury Airport runway to increase the traffic coming into the airport.

In 2009, Edwards obtained federal funding to allow the Police Department to update their current records management system, allowing officers to more quickly and efficiently identify criminals.

Edwards assisted Hood County dispatch with the approval of funding for new call taker positions. The two additional dispatchers have improved operations for all emergency service providers, including nine independent volunteer fire departments, three EMS providers, eight separate law enforcement agencies and after-hours public works units, in Hood County.

 

Johnson

With the help of local leaders, Congressman Edwards’ work in Congress will benefit the Johnson County for years to come.

When Edwards became Chairman of the House Appropriation Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, he authored historic VA budgets that allowed for a new Veterans Outpatient Clinic in Fort Worth. The Fort Worth facility, which opened in 2010, will be the largest leased veterans’ outpatient clinic in the nation, five times larger than the existing clinic, and located in the southern part of Tarrant County, which will make it more convenient for veterans throughout Johnson, Hood, Somervell and Hill counties.

While representing Johnson County, Edwards has been instrumental in the inclusion of Johnson County in the Southwest Parkway and Chisholm Trail project, by stepping in when there was concern that the county would be eliminated. He directed Recovery Act funding to two major interchanges along 121 and contacted the administration in support of the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) grant application to fund construction. The grant was awarded, and construction has begun on this road.

In close partnership with local leaders, Edwards worked to enhance safety, improve road quality and alleviate heavy congestion on key transportation projects including: Alsbury Boulevard, East Renfro and Colonial Drive.

From 2005-2010, Edwards joined with local leaders to fund the highly effective Stop The Offender Program (STOP). STOP is an undercover joint law enforcement operation designed to curb and stop the spread of drugs into and within Johnson County.

Beginning in 2005, Edwards collaborated with officials across Johnson County to bring taxpayer dollars back to local city parks and trails, providing children and families safe places to exercise and enjoy the outdoors. In 2009, Edwards secured funding to construct Joshua City Park.

When Edwards first began representing Johnson County, leaders approached Edwards about their desire to reopen Hamm Creek Park. Edwards helped to lead the development of park on the Brazos River, located near Rio Vista. This beautiful park was closed to the public for over twenty years, but now serves as a campground with a two-lane boat ramp, restrooms, group shelters, trails and a playground.

In 2009, Edwards secured funding for an Entrepreneurship Resources Center at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene. This center focuses on undergraduate and graduate business programs, providing resources to our future entrepreneurs.

In 2009, Edwards helped to save nearly 100 jobs at the Cleburne Greenbrier railcar production plant by encouraging GE to negotiate a settlement, rather than simply cancel their contract. The resulting settlement has allowed Cleburne to continue producing rail cars and provides potential for future growth, despite the threat of losing the majority of their business.

In 2009, Edwards included funding in the Homeland Security Appropriations bill to build an Emergency Operating Center in Johnson County. Construction on the facility is expected to be complete in 2011.

In 2009, Edwards worked with Huguley Memorial Medical Center to secure funds for the purchase of a Mobile Medical Unit. This unit will provide traveling primary care, flu shots, health screenings, school physicals, and first aid service stations in Johnson County. This will replace the current ten year old bus.

In 2008, Edwards directed the National Park Service to provide a grant that will renovate and preserve the Cleburne Layland Museum, one of the country’s few remaining historical Carnegie Libraries.

In 2005, Edwards collaborated with community leaders on the construction of the Booker T. Washington Community Center. In 2008, Edwards added funding to the East Cleburne Community Center, which provides after school programs for low-income families.

While representing Johnson County, Edwards partnered with the Alvarado, Burleson, Cleburne and Joshua Police Departments to add law enforcement technology, more vehicles, and additional officers.

Over the last several years, Edwards has worked with local leaders to ensure that cities in Johnson County had the funding to update or build new water treatment facilities, replace aging underground water lines, and improve city drainage systems.

 

Limestone

With the help of local leaders, Congressman Edwards made these key Veterans, education and economic development projects possible in Limestone County. 

In 2009, Edwards worked closely with the local, state and federal rural development offices to help Frazier and Frazier Industries obtain a critical loan. This loan for the business to stay open and continue to employ its 300 employees.

Edwards played a key role in the expansion and renovation of the Groesbeck City Park. In 2009, he secured funding for the park which allowed for two new playgrounds, covered pavilions and trails.

In 2009, Edwards helped to modernize local law enforcement equipment and to hire an additional narcotics officer.

In 2005, Edwards secured funding which allowed for the widening of FM 937 from State Highway 164 in Groesbeck to County Road 770.

 

Madison

With the help of local leaders, Congressman Edwards’ work in Congress will benefit the Madison County for years to come.

While representing Madison County, Edwards helped St. Joseph’s Hospital in Madisonville make critical repairs and upgrades to their facilities. In 2009, Edwards worked with St. Joseph’s to obtain equipment to detect Peripheral Arterial Disease in three underserved rural counties.

In 2009-2010, Madison County experienced severe power outages after Hurricane Ike passed through Texas. Because of Edwards’ work to secure disaster funding in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, Burleson County was able to install permanent generators to deal with future outages in a natural disaster.

In 2008, Edwards assisted the City of Madisonville reconstruct Collard St. – a major collector street in need of upgrades.

In 2005, Edwards worked with community leaders to upgrade and renovate the recreation complex in Madisonville to allow more families access to the various different sporting and community events at the facility.

 

McLennan

With the help of local leaders, Congressman Edwards’ work in Congress will benefit the McLennan County for years to come.

Working alongside area veterans, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and local leaders Edwards spearheaded the three-year fight to keep the Waco VA open, and to expand its mission as a national mental health center. When Edwards became Chairman of the House Appropriation Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, he authored historic VA budgets that added 250 jobs to the Waco Regional Office and over 400 new jobs to the Waco VA Medical Center. Edwards has worked with local, state and national Veteran leaders on the following projects in Waco:

  • Locating the new National Pharmacy Custom Care Center in Waco. The center which opened in 2010 now employs over 200 people.
  • Bringing 100 new claims processing jobs to the Waco VA Regional Office.
  • Adding 205 new doctors, nurses and staff at the Waco VA Medical Center.
  • Bringing federal funding back to the Waco VA for construction projects to expand services to our Veterans.
  • Establishing and expanding a mental health center and a blind research unit at the Waco VA.

Beginning in 2001, Edwards passed through the House legislation to establish the Waco Mammoth Site as a national monument within the national park system. Additionally, Edwards secured funding for the Mayborn Museum’s Mammoth Exhibit and preservation efforts for the site which opened in 2008.

Throughout his twenty years in Congress, Edwards worked to enhance safety, improve road quality, and expand I-35. Key local transportation projects included:

  • Memorial Drive in Waco
  • Expand Ritchie Road from Hewitt Drive (FM 1695) to US 84 in Waco
  • Widening FM 1637 in China Springs
  • Constructing Loop 574 from BU77 to I-35

In 2000, when Raytheon Aircraft Integration Systems, now part of L-3 Communications was in serious jeopardy of closure, Edwards stepped in to help Waco secure a critical government contract. Edwards continued fighting for federal funding to local defense companies including L-3, McDowell Research Corporation, and ACT I which has impacted over 500 direct jobs in Waco. At L-3, their appropriation-funded work has enabled them to expand their defense work, and the Waco plant now employs 1,950 people, 90% of whom work on defense contracts. Not only have these projects created local jobs but have served as an important tool for border patrol and supported our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Throughout his tenure in Congress, Edwards has led the fight to ensure that Lake Waco continues to serve Central Texas both as a clean source of drinking water and as recreation destination for Texas families. Edwards worked to clean up the Middle Brazos River and Bosque River Watershed as well as ensuring that the Corps of Engineers had adequate funds to maintain recreation areas, dam upgrades and flood control measures at the lake. Specifically, he led the fight for: the creation of the new Airport Park at Lake Waco; designation of a fishing area at Reynolds Creek Park; improvements at Speegleville Park; and upgrades to the hike and bike trail at Lake Waco.

In 2010, at the request of Baylor and Waco community leaders, Edwards played an active role in trying to prevent the breakup of the Big 12, which could have left Baylor outside of a major conference and caused the area millions of dollars in economic losses. Specifically, Edwards publicly called on Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Texas Speaker Joe Straus to hold immediate hearings on the Big 12.

In 1989, Coach Grant Teaff told Edwards that the Southwest Conference was within days of breaking up. As the State Senator representing Baylor, Edwards immediately announced that Texas Senate State Affairs would hold a hearing on the impact of breaking up the Southwest Conference. Several key legislators publicly reminded the state’s public university boards that they had a responsibility to all the taxpayers of Texas, who supported their institutions with millions of tax dollars annually.

Edwards worked with Baylor University and Texas State Technical College to prepare students for careers in science, engineering and technology. In 2009, Edwards supported a career training program at Texas State Technical College for veterans transitioning into civilian life.

In 1998, Edwards pushed through legislation that allowed the City of McGregor to obtain up to 10,000 acres in land held by the U.S. Navy that housed the former Hercules Plant. In 2009, Edwards helped to secure an economic development grant that has the potential to create 350 jobs with an expansion at the McGregor Industrial Park. Additionally, in 2003, Edwards facilitated a land swap between the City of McGregor and the National Park Service to allow McGregor to locate their new elementary school on the ideal spot – previously designated as parkland.

From 2000-2010, Edwards has been a key partner in revitalizing East Waco and Bellmead. He obtained funding for these key projects:

  • Creation of the City of Waco Multi-Purpose Center on Quinn Campus
  • Construction of the primary entrance to Quinn Campus from historic Elm Avenue, the connector road between East and Downtown Waco
  • Renovation and upgrades at the at the Doris Miller YMCA
  • Renovation of the Paul Quinn campus for the exemplary Rapoport Academy
  • Construction of an outdoor recreational facility for the community of Bellmead

Working with community leaders, Edwards aided in funding local education projects including AVANCE-Waco, Gear-Up Waco, and the Baylor University Literacy Center.

When the Waco Postal Distribution Center was facing closure in 2006, Congressman Edwards worked closely with the U.S. Postal Service to keep the Postal Distribution Center open, saving 250 jobs and ensuring timely mail delivery in the region.

In 2003, Edwards successfully worked with Continental Airlines to restore airport service to Waco Regional Airport. Throughout his years in Congress, he obtained federal funding to renovate, repair and expand the airport. Waco Regional Airport has used this funding to make much needed improvements to the airport terminal, as well as rehabilitating the runway.

In 2002, Edwards collaborated with the City of Waco on a housing assistance program to provide down payment loans for first-time homebuyers.

In the early 2000s, Edwards secured funding for the Waco Transit System. This funding has replaced aging transit vehicles to better serve the Waco population, as well as improving the level of bus maintenance.

In the early 2000s, Edwards helped Free Flight Systems, a new Waco company, stay in business. When the FAA tried to apply unfair new standards to its GPS product line, costing them $500,000 and considerable loss of business, Edwards intervened and the FAA allowed Free Flight to sell its product under the original standards.

While in Congress, Edwards partnered with local police departments to add new technology, upgrade communication equipment and increase the number of police officers in McLennan County.

o make much needed improvements to the airport terminal, as well as rehabilitating the runway.

In 2002, Edwards collaborated with the City of Waco on a housing assistance program to provide down payment loans for first-time homebuyers.

In the early 2000s, Edwards secured funding for the Waco Transit System. This funding has replaced aging transit vehicles to better serve the Waco population, as well as improving the level of bus maintenance.

In the early 2000s, Edwards helped Free Flight Systems, a new Waco company, stay in business. When the FAA tried to apply unfair new standards to its GPS product line, costing them $500,000 and considerable loss of business, Edwards intervened and the FAA allowed Free Flight to sell its product under the original standards.

While in Congress, Edwards partnered with local police departments to add new technology, upgrade communication equipment and increase the number of police officers in McLennan County.

 

Robertson

With the help of local leaders, Congressman Edwards’ work in Congress will benefit the Robertson County for years to come.

While representing Robertson County, Edwards worked closely with the City of Hearne Police Department and the Robertson County Sheriff’s Office to upgrade their communication technology to ensure quicker response times between the different departments. In 2009, Edwards assisted the Sherriff’s office in purchasing additional patrol vehicles.

In 2009-2010, Edwards worked with community officials on constructing a sidewalk along the highway to allow children to safely walk to Franklin High School and Franklin Jr. High.

In 2008, Edwards worked with the Department of Health and Human Services to expand access to dental care in the county, which was previously only available a few days a week.

In 2008-2009, Edwards worked with community leaders on the creation of the World War II POW Camp Hearne visitor’s center and museum.

In 2008, when the planned expansion and maintenance of the OSR water board’s sewer and water system in Robertson County was in jeopardy, Edwards worked with Department of Agriculture Office of Rural Affairs to ensure that this vital public works project moved forward.

From 2004-2006, Edwards worked with the Army Corps of Engineers to do flood control studies on the Little Brazos River and develop flood control plans on the Middle Brazos River, with the goal of avoiding the devastating flood damage of 2004.

 

Somervell

With the help of local leaders, Congressman Edwards’ work in Congress will benefit the Somervell County for years to come.

As Vice-Chairman of the House Energy Appropriations Committee, Edwards supported the energy bill that authorized the Nuclear Loan Guarantees that make its expansion at Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant possible. Comanche Peak currently employs 1,100 people, and the expansion of the plant will add 500 permanent jobs to the plant. Comanche Peak Expansion is projected to generate over 6,200 permanent jobs throughout Texas upon the completion of the plant.

Beginning in 2007, Edwards partnered with the Glen Rose Medical Center to fund a necessary emergency room expansion. Now complete, the Glen Rose Medical Center was able to construct new and improved emergency rooms, radiology diagnostic laboratories, pharmacy supply, and increase occupancy to handle a rapidly growing number of patients.

 

All Texas Families

Congressman Edwards’ proven record of hard work, combined with his years of seniority on the powerful Appropriations Committee, put him in a position to fight effectively for jobs and vital veteran, agriculture, transportation and water investments in Texas. Congressman Edwards’ work in Congress will benefit communities throughout the state for years to come.

When Edwards became Chairman of the House Appropriation Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, he authored historic VA budgets that allowed for a new Veterans Outpatient Clinic in Fort Worth. The Fort Worth facility opened in 2010 as the largest leased veterans’ outpatient clinic in the nation, five times larger than the existing clinic, and located in the southern part of Tarrant Count.

In 2007, Chairman Edwards and VA officials discussed the need for a fifth level one polytrauma center to improve care to severely wounded troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Following that meeting, Chairman Edwards authored the provisions in the 2007 Supplemental Appropriations bill that established new polytrauma center that was later located in San Antonio, Texas. Level one poly-trauma centers are considered the most advanced hospitals for veterans, and this center will allow veterans and service members from Texas to be closer to home while recovering instead of having to travel to the center in Florida.

In partnership with Senator Hutchison, Senator Cornyn, Congresswoman Johnson and Congresswoman Granger, Edwards joined his colleagues in pursuing numerous projects surrounding the Trinity River Vision in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex. Edwards authored the first $10 million for the Corps of Engineers funding for the Dallas Trinity River project. These projects have allowed for improved flood protection for the Corridor in a way that supports environmental, recreational, mobility and economic development goals.  Dallas citizens and visitors will benefit from improved flood control, an improved Trinity River ecosystem and the preservation of the Great Trinity Forest.

Edwards prevented drastic cuts for the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC), which plays a critical role in helping our emergency responders to prevent, protect against, respond to and recover from an all hazards incident of national importance.  Since its inception in 1998, NERRTC has trained 300,000 local and state officials and emergency responders including over 45,000 from Texas.

Immediately after Hurricane Ike devastated the coast of Texas in 2008, Edwards and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, both senior Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee, led the Texas delegation in a bipartisan fashion to secure federal funding for the recovery from Hurricane Ike. At the request of Houston and Galveston leaders in 2009, Edwards helped negotiate a provision to continue 100 percent federal reimbursement for Texas’ communities’ debris removal which has expired earlier that year.

Over the last five years, Edwards actively supported important law enforcement training programs in Texas like the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT), Project Protect and the Forensic Science Academy. Each of these training programs is designed to train law enforcement officials who are the first responders to a critical situation. ALERRT has trained 32,000 law enforcement officers across the United States since its inception and trained the police officer who responded to the tragic shooting at Ft. Hood.

As the only Member of the Texas delegation on the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, Edwards worked to adequately fund the construction and maintenance of our Texas’ ports and navigational waterways, which are crucial to our economy, military and international trade. Edwards secured funds for the Port of Houston and Houston Ship Channel which is a critical component of America’s energy infrastructure and responsible for billions of dollars in economic impact. In addition, Edwards worked with the Texas delegation on providing funding for: Cedar Bayou, Harlingen Channel, Texas City Ship Channel, Matagorda Ship Channel, Greens Bayou, Sabine-Neches Waterway, Brazos Island Harbor, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, Freeport Harbor and Corpus Christi Ship Channel.

Throughout his tenure in Congress, Edwards came together with his colleagues in passing drought and disaster assistance legislation to help Texas’ farmers and ranchers recover from severe losses and stay in business.

Recognizing I-35 as a major transportation corridor, Edwards worked with his Texas colleagues on widening I-35 in Central Texas to help reduce congestion and improve safety.

Edwards coordinated closely with Texas Agrilife on projects that will help protect the food supply, family farms, and support our economy. These research projects studied: the effects of the Farm Bill on regional farming communities, livestock and dairy policy, the effects of healthy foods and diet on disease prevention, food irradiation, the sustainability of irrigation in rural communities and air quality.

As Vice-Chairman of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, Edwards looked to protect areas in Texas prone to flooding to prevent damages to homes and businesses including: the Lower Colorado Basin, Bosque River, Middle Brazos, Mission River, and Guadalupe River and San Antonio River Basin.

Because of his commitment to fighting for Texas families, Congressman Edwards has been honored with dozens of awards including:

  • 2010 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award
  • 2009 Friend of C-FARE and Agricultural Economics
  • 2008 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award
  • 2007 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award
  • 2007 Texas A&M AgriLife Outstanding Public Servant Award
  • 2006 U.S. Chamber Spirit of Enterprise Award
  • 2006 Texas Health Resources Excellence in Public Service Award
  • 2006 Port Person of the Year by the Texas Port Person
  • 2006 Legislative Honor Roll Southern Economic Development Council
  • 2006 Friend of the Farm Bureau
  • 2006 National Association of Manufacturers Award for Legislative Excellence
  • 2006 NFIB Guardian of Small Business
  • 2006 Property Rights Alliance Protector of Private Property
  • 2005 U.S. Chamber Spirit of Enterprise Award
  • 2004 Spirit of Enterprise Award from U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • 1998 Deficit Hawk Award from the Concord Coalition
  • 1999 Fiscal Responsibility Award from the Concord Coalition
  • 1999 “A Star For Texas” Award from the Texas A&M School of Health Sciences for his work with the A&M Medical School in Temple, Scott and White and the VA hospital in Temple
  • 1998 Deficit Hawk Award from the Concord Coalition
  • 1998 Legislator of the Year from the bipartisan National Security Caucus.
  • 1998 “Guardian of Education” by the Association of Teachers and Professional Educators
  • 1997 “Spirit of Enterprise Award” by the Chamber of Commerce
  • 1995 “National Security Leadership Award” from the American Security Council
  • 1995 “Spirit of Enterprise Award” by the Chamber of Commerce
  • 1995 “Legislator of the Year” by the Texas Chapter of the National Heart Association
  • 1994 National Federation of Independent Business “Guardian of Small Business” Award
  • Killeen Independent School District’s “Friend of Education” Award

 

In Washington, Edwards quickly earned the respect of his colleagues. In 1995 he was appointed as one of only four Chief Democratic Whips, along with John Lewis, Rosa DeLauro, and Bill Richardson. Based on his reputation as a national leader on military, veterans and nuclear non-proliferation issues, Edwards was one of only five persons to be officially vetted to become then Senator Barack Obama’s vice presidential running mate in 2008.

Edwards played a key role in the fight against nuclear terrorism. While serving as the Vice-Chairman of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, he helped oversee key homeland defense and university research programs to protect Americans from the threat of nuclear terrorism. In 2001, months before the 9/11 terrorists attacks, he led the successful fight against the Bush Administration’s ill-advised proposal to cut nuclear non-proliferation programs. He initiated the effort to expedite funding for nuclear detection devices at foreign seaports. Additionally, Edwards introduced legislation, the Nuclear Security Initiative, which formally authorized non-proliferation activities outside of Russia. Read more about Edwards’ work on nuclear non-proliferation.

 

Click here to read more about Edwards’ Work on Nuclear Non-Proliferation

Congressman Edwards was a respected national leader on the issues of nuclear non-proliferation and defending our homeland against nuclear terrorism.  As a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee’s Energy & Water Subcommittee, he worked as the primary proponent of providing increased resources to the Department of Energy’s non-proliferation accounts.  The Department of Energy executes more non-proliferation work than the Department of Defense and State Department combined, and because of Edwards’ partnership with the Department of Energy, nuclear and radiological materials have been removed from over 50 countries.

Edwards consistently advocated for a bolder approach to non-proliferation efforts because of the urgency of these threats. His key accomplishments include:

  • In 2001, Edwards stopped a Bush budget proposal which cut 11% from non-proliferation efforts including a program designed to ensure nuclear materials in Russia were protected from terrorist theft.  Rep. Edwards led the House efforts against this cut – before the 9/11 attacks.  In the final negotiations between the House and Senate, the cut was largely reversed.
  • In 2002, Edwards worked with his colleagues to secure additional funds for the Materials Protection, Control and Accounting (MPC&A) program in Russia to help secure the nuclear material. As of July 2010, security upgrades have occurred at 93% of Russian nuclear material and warhead sites of concern.
  • In 2003, Edwards worked with Congressman Weldon on authorizing legislation, the Nuclear Security Initiative.  This bill would authorize the Department of Energy to conduct the Materials Protection, Control and Accounting (MPC&A) program outside the former Soviet Union. It encouraged the closing Russian nuclear weapons facilities, employment of Russian nuclear scientists, and expanding security at Russian border crossings. As of July 2010, 221 Russian border crossings had been equipped with radiation detection equipment and 105 sites (land borders, airports, and feeder seaports) outside of Russia, including 17 former Soviet, Eastern European, South Asian and Central Asian countries had been equipped with nuclear detection materials.  Additionally, the legislation increased security for radiological materials (that could be used in a dirty bomb) and disposition of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU). 2,791 kilograms of HEU and plutonium have been transported from vulnerable sites around the world to secure storage or down-blending facilities.
  • In 2003, Edwards successfully authored and passed legislation to put nuclear detection devices in foreign seaports to inspect ship containers destined for U.S. ports. As of July 2010, radiation detection equipment had been installed at 30 Megaports.
  • In 2005, Edwards discovered a shortfall in the Elimination of Weapons Grade Plutonium Production program that would create critical delays unless more funds were included in the legislation.  He worked with Chairman Hobson to secure an increase of $44 million in this account to avoid the schedule delays.
  • Since Edwards began representing A&M in 2005, Edwards led the Texas Delegation in supporting the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC) at Texas A&M.  NERRTC is an original and influential member of the Department of Homeland Security National Domestic Preparedness Consortium and is critical to the preparation of the Nation’s emergency responders to prevent, protect against, respond to and recover from an all hazards incident of national importance including nuclear terrorism. Since 1998, NERRTC has effectively trained over 300,000 police, firefighters, and EMS personnel from across the country.
  • From 2004-2010, Edwards helped Texas A&M play a national leadership role in nuclear terrorism prevention. In 2004 and 2005, Edwards secured federal funds for Texas A&M to conduct valuable research and coordinate efforts with the U.S. Department of Energy and Russian universities to help curb the proliferation of nuclear materials and weapons across the world. When the Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute (NSSPI) began in 2006, Edwards was instrumental in securing millions of dollars that have allowed A&M to conduct research and development to help detect, prevent, and reverse nuclear and radiological proliferation.

As a lifelong person of faith, Edwards considers one of his greatest achievements in Congress to be his defense of religious liberty. He led congressional efforts to protect this cherished American principle by opposing attempts to insert federal influence into the practice of individual faith, and led the bipartisan effort that soundly defeated an attempt to amend the Bill of Rights and weaken the wall of separation between church and state. Edwards has also opposed government intervention in religion through Charitable Choice legislation.

Click here to read more about Edwards’ Work on Church State Issues

Dr. Herb Reynolds, former President of Baylor University, made a lasting impression on Representative Edwards by sharing with him the greater narrative of the Baptist heritage – and the even grander narrative of religious liberty. Most notably, he shared with Edwards a sermon given by Dr. George W. Truett on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in 1920 in which Dr. Truett reminded the audience that the United States was founded on the principles of religious freedom and separation of church and state.

Edwards became passionate about the constitutional principle of church-state separation being the key to religious liberty. Many considered him to be the leading voice in the U.S. Congress on church-state separation. In the 1990s, he led the bipartisan effort that soundly defeated an attempt to amend the Bill of Rights to permit government sanctioned school prayer. Edwards weighed in repeatedly in favor of church-state separation in fights against legislation that would: authorize the display of the Ten Commandments in government buildings; state it is a “necessary duty” to pray; and allow federally funded religious job discrimination.

In the 2000s, Edwards fought government intervention in religion through the Charitable Choice legislation, which allows for federal tax dollars to subsidize religious discrimination in job hiring.

Edwards has been recognized for his principled fight to keep government funding and regulations out of our churches and houses of worship by several Baptist organizations, including the board of directors of Associated Baptist Press and the Baptist Joint Committee.

Congressman Chet Edwards Speech
Baptist Unity Rally for Religious Liberty at U.S. Capitol

June 29, 2007

We stand together today in the shadows of our nation’s Capitol, which is known as the greatest symbol of democracy in the world.

Our Capitol’s cornerstone was laid by George Washington in 1793, but its true foundation is our first freedom—the freedom of religion. It is that freedom, enshrined in the first 16 words of our Bill of Rights, which stands as the pillar of all other freedoms we cherish as Americans.

We join together to reaffirm our commitment to be strong stewards of the God-given gift of religious liberty. It is truly a divine gift, which for over two centuries, has been preserved through the principle enunciated in Madison’s magnificent words: “Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

How blessed we are that our founding fathers, prodded by their Baptist peers, understood that religion should be placed upon a constitutional pedestal, far above the reach of government and politicians.

How blessed we are that Thomas Jefferson, in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists, etched into the American conscience the vision of a sacred wall of separation between church and state.

How blessed we are that 118 years later, in 1920, a Texas Baptist, George Truett, stood on the steps of our Citadel of Democracy and relit the torch of religious freedom for a new generation in a new century by reminding us that, quote, “God wants free worshipers and no other kind,” end quote.

10 years ago when Dr. Herb Reynolds sent to me Dr. Truett’s historic speech, those words made an indelible imprint in my mind and my spirit.

It became so clear. If God chose to give us the gift of religious freedom, which He did, it would be a sacrilege for government to infringe upon that divine gift.

It became so clear that our stewardship of that gift is a solemn responsibility for each of us.

Madison’s words and the Bill of Rights are protected on parchment in our National Archives just a few blocks from here. Our liberty is symbolized by the Statue of Freedom standing atop the Capitol Dome. But, the first freedom of our Bill of Rights cannot ultimately be protected by parchment or statue, however inspiring they might be.

Our religious freedom must be protected by the vision, efforts and sacrifice of each generation of Americans. As surely as the setting of the sun, there are politicians in each generation who, in the name of religion, would do it great harm by tearing down the wall of separation between church and state.

Human history has proven time and again that politicians, if given the temptation, will fall sway to the siren song of using religion as a means to their own political ends. When that happens, the rights of religious minorities are diminished, and religious liberty for all is put at risk.

Just in this last decade in Congress, we have seen congressional initiatives that would reinstate government organized, government sanctioned school prayer; legalize religious discrimination in job hiring for tax-funded jobs; provide direct tax funding of houses of worship and dictate that prayer is a “necessary duty” rather than a reverent choice of free will.

I never met Dr. Truett in person, even though his words on religious liberty and its protector, church-state separation, have become my political calling in life. But, I would have to believe that he would not want us to leave here today feeling satisfied that our presence today fulfills our obligation as stewards of religious liberty.

I would have to believe that, instead, he would want us to feel a great burden as we leave this Capitol—the burden of doing all that we can to preserve the divine gift of religious liberty. Surely, he would want us to sense the watchful eye of Mr. Madison, Mr. Jefferson, Lady Liberty and his own. Surely, he would remind us that others before us have given their lives in defense of religious freedom, so shouldn’t this cause be worthy of our time, our energies and our financial resources? Is there any material gift we could bequeath to our heirs that would be more valuable than ensuring their freedom to worship God in their own way?

I leave you with one final question. If one year from now, we were to be accused of making personal sacrifices in defense of religious liberty for our children and their children, would there be enough evidence to convict us?

With God’s help, may that answer be a resounding “yes”. And, with God’s blessing, I pray that our nation will always cherish and preserve our first freedom, His gift divine.

May God bless each of you in this noble cause.

Religious Liberty Awards

  • 2006 National First Freedom Award
  • 2005 T.B. Maston Christian Ethics Awards
  • 2003 Associated Baptist Press Religious Freedom Award for making significant contribution to the defense and advancement of religious liberty
  • 2001 NAADAC Legislator of the Year Award for his work on Charitable Choice and religious liberty.
  • 2001 Interfaith Alliance Walter Cronkite Faith & Freedom Award recognizing individuals whose work and actions have embodied the shared religious values of civility, tolerance, mutual respect and compassion when addressing controversial and divisive issues.
  • 1999 Congressional Leadership Award from the American Jewish Committee for his leadership in the effort to preserve the separation of religion and state
  • 1999 The Jordan/Hatfield Courage Award from the Baptist Joint Committee for his leadership in defeating the Istook Amendment and weakening the constitutional protections for religious liberty
  • 1999 Congressional Leadership Award from the American Jewish Committee
  • 1998 The Religious Liberty Achievement Award from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for his work protecting the First Amendment.

Edwards and his wife, Lea Ann, are the parents of two sons, J.T. and Garrison, who are both active Boy Scouts. The Edwards family attends the McLean Baptist Church in McLean, Virginia and the Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, Texas.