Baylor University Poage Library

About Chet Edwards

Chet Edwards

CHET EDWARDS

Texas State Senator 1983-1990
U. S. Congressman 1991-2011

Biography

Congressman Chet Edwards represented portions of North Texas, Central Texas and the Brazos Valley in Washington. Since first being elected to the United States Congress in 1990, Chet has served as a respected member on both the House Budget and the Appropriations Committees. Chet also served on the Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee, as vice chair of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, and co-chaired the House Army Caucus.

Congressman Edwards was known as a national champion for America's veterans, troops, and their families. After becoming Chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee in 2007, Congressman Edwards authored a historic $17.7 billion increase in funding for veterans health care and benefits, the largest increase in veterans funding in the history of the Veterans Administration. Chairman Edwards also played a key role in enacting the 21st Century GI Bill of Rights into law that covers the full cost of a college education for our troops. In 2008, both the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars recognized Congressman Edwards' leadership with their national awards given to only one member of Congress.

During his 20-year tenure in Congress including 12 years of seniority on the powerful Appropriations Committee, Congressman Edwards developed a reputation of working hard and effectively for his Central Texas constituents. This reputation was the result of his commitment to protecting jobs and the local economy by making vital federal investments in key education, health, transportation, and water programs in his District. Securing important federal investments for Fort Hood, the Central Texas Veterans' Health Care System, and university research programs at Baylor and Texas A&M Universities was also a primary focus of Congressman Edwards' work in Washington.

When he represented Fort Hood, the world's largest Army base, Congressman Edwards played a major leadership role in support of the U.S. Army, troops, and military families. In 2007, he received the Marix Congressional Achievement Award from the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) in recognition of his work. 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." He was 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 before joining the Appropriations Committee.

Early in his congressional career, Congressman Edwards became known as a leader in the fight against nuclear terrorism, and in 2001, strongly opposed cuts of $100 million to the nuclear non-proliferation budget proposed by the Bush Administration. Serving as a member on the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, Edwards helped to oversee key homeland defense and university research programs to protect Americans from the threat of nuclear terrorism. To ensure that more cargo coming into U.S. seaports was properly inspected, Edwards supported the implementation of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and, in 2003, helped secure $84 million 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.

Former Congressman Edwards is known as a fiscal conservative who believes massive federal deficits and the multi-trillion national debt are harmful to our economy and morally wrong to pass on to our children and grandchildren. The non-partisan Concord Coalition gave him its "Deficit Hawk" Award. His pro-economic, pro-agriculture record also earned him endorsements from both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Farm Bureau Friends of Agriculture Fund (AGFUND). The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave him their "Spirit of Enterprise" Award for several years for his support of business. As a strong supporter of 2nd Amendment rights, Congressman Edwards voted with the NRA 100% on gun rights issues for many years and received the NRA's endorsement.

As a respected voice on issues facing working families, Edwards pushed for increased access to health care for children of working families under the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), supported middle class tax cuts, and protected Medicare and Social Security benefits for America's seniors. 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 stand to keep government regulations out of our churches and houses of worship. Congressman Edwards has also been honored with the T.B. Maston Christian Ethics Award.

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 three years 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 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, a rural radio station in South Texas. From 1983 to 1989, Edwards 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 Best Legislators by Texas Monthly magazine.

In 2008, Congressman Edwards was vetted and became a finalist to become then Senator Barack Obama's vice presidential running mate.

Since leaving Congress in 2011, Edwards was appointed the W. R. Poage Distinguished Chair of Public Service at Baylor University. Bob Poage and Marvin Leath preceded Edwards in representing Waco in Congress. All three men have donated their papers to the W. R. Poage Legislative Library. Edwards has also established Edwards, Davis Stover & Associates, LLC with his former chief of staff, Lindsey Davis Stover. He continues to be involved with veterans issues in the Washington, DC area through his work on the boards of the Military Child Education Coalition and the Arlington National Cemetery Advisory Commission.

Chet was raised in the Methodist church. Now, he and his wife Lea Ann, along with their sons, J.T. and Garrison attend the Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, and the McLean Baptist Church in McLean, Virginia.

Recognitions

  • 2009 American Veterans Congressional Silver Helmet Award
  • 2009 U.S. Army Commanders Award for Civilian Service
  • 2009 U.S. Navy Distinguished Public Service Award
  • 2009 Fleet Reserve Association Pinnacle Award
  • 2008 American Legion Distinguished Public Service Award
  • 2008 VFW Congressional Award
  • 2008 National Coalition for Homeless Veterans Congressional Award
  • 2008 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award
  • 2007 Texas Military Order of the Purple Heart Award
  • 2007 Going to Bat for Veterans Award National Disabled American Veterans
  • 2007 "Platinum Award" from the American Psychiatric Association for support of PTSD research
  • Congressional Achievement Award from the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) 2007
  • Military Coalition Marix Award of Merit 2006
  • Military Order of the Purple Heart National Inspirational Leadership Award 2005
  • "Legislator of the Year" award from the Association of the United States Army 2003
  • Quality of Life Award from the USO 2002
  • Legislator of the Year from the bipartisan National Security Caucus 1998
  • "National Security Leadership Award" from the American Security Council 1995
  • Deficit Hawk Award from the Concord Coalition 1998
  • "Fiscal Responsibility" Award from the Concord Coalition 1999
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce "Spirit of Enterprise" Award 2003-2008
  • Friend of the Farm Bureau 2006
  • Walter Cronkite Faith & Freedom Award from the Interfaith Alliance
  • Congressional Leadership Award from the American Jewish Committee
  • Religious Liberty Achievement Award from the Anti-Defamation League
  • Barbara Jordan/Hatfield Courage Award from the Baptist Joint Committee
  • "Texas Hero" award from the Texas Chamber of Commerce
  • Ten Best Legislators by Texas Monthly magazine


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