- Former U.S. congresswoman representing Maryland
- Former Member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus
Donna F. Edwards was born on June 28, 1958 in Yancyville, North Carolina. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish at Wake Forest University in 1980, and a JD at the Franklin Pierce Law Center in 1989. After graduating from Wake Forest, Edwards worked variously as an assistant director in the United Nations Development Program (1980-82); a writer at the Lockheed Corporation (1982-86); a clerk for a District of Columbia Superior Court Judge (1989-90); executive director of the Center for a New Democracy (1994-96); executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (1996-99); and executive director of the Arca Foundation (2000-08).
Running as a Democrat, Edwards in 2006 made an unsuccessful run for a spot in the U.S. House of Representatives. Less than two years later, on June 17, 2008, she won a special election for Maryland’s 4th Congressional District seat, which was being vacated by the resigning Rep. Al Wynn.
A member of both the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and the Congressional Progressive Caucus,1 Edwards voted in favor of President Barack Obama‘s $825 billion stimulus bill (January 2009); in favor of an additional $192 billion in stimulus spending (July 2009); in favor of cap-and-trade legislation placing limits on the carbon emissions that American businesses are permitted to generate (2009); in favor of abolishing the federal death penalty (2011); against opening the Outer Continental Shelf to oil drilling (2011); against barring the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases (2011); against reauthorizing the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program designed to help poor children in the nation’s capital escape their city’s abysmal public school system (2011); and against maintaining a work requirement for welfare recipients (2013). On the issue of what Edwards terms “fixing our broken immigration system,” the congresswoman advocates reforms that would “provide an earned path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.”
For additional information on Edwards’s congressional voting record and her positions on various issues of import, click here.
On December 22, 2009, Edwards was one of 33 U.S. Representatives who signed a letter to Hillary Clinton, urging the Secretary of State to pressure the Israeli government to end its ban on Palestinian student travel from Gaza to the West Bank. “We applaud your efforts to support educational opportunities for Palestinian youth, including your initiative to increase U.S. funding for Palestinian universities and educational programs in Gaza and the West Bank,” added the letter.
On January 27, 2010, Edwards was one of 54 Members of Congress who signed a letter calling on President Barack Obama to use diplomatic pressure to end Israel’s blockade of Gaza—a blockade whose purpose was to prevent Hamas terrorists from importing weaponry from places like Iran and Syria.
In January 2015, Edwards objected strenuously when Republican House Speaker John Boehner—without first asking President Obama for his approval—invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress on March 3rd about the gravity of the growing Iranian nuclear threat and his “profound disagreement” with the deal that the Obama Administration was pursuing with Iran. Edwards was one of numerous CBC members who announced that because of Netanyahu’s act of “disrespect” against Obama, they would be boycotting the speech.
Edwards contends that the greenhouse gases emitted by human industrial activity are responsible for atmospheric changes that have given rise to a potentially catastrophic trend of global warming/climate change. At a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meeting in December 2012, the congresswoman stated: “The elephant in this room that needs to be spoken about is the impact of climate change and the increasing intensity of storms and the variedness of the storms … and I think that we need to be rebuild and rethink our infrastructure in those terms, and that’s something that this Congress and our next Congress ought to address sooner rather than later—things like our power grid in densely populated areas.”
Edwards was the Democratic comedy keynote speaker at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s annual dinner in February 2014. In the course of her remarks, she likened Republicans to monkeys with typewriters who incessantly type “Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi”—a reference to the September 11, 2012 Islamic terrorist attack against a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans while the Obama Administration took no steps to intervene. In short, Edwards implied that Republicans’ post-9/11/12 efforts to draw attention to the Administration’s many lies and misrepresentations regarding that attack constituted nothing more than political gamesmanship that aimed to undermine the president.
In the aftermath of an April 2015 incident where a black criminal suspect named Freddie Gray died while in the custody of Baltimore police, setting off days of violent riots throughout the city, Edwards appeared on Fox News Sunday to discuss the matter. She blamed a combination of poor policing practices and an insufficient flow of government funds to black inner cities: “I would say there is over-policing going on, not just in Baltimore but really across this country, and it is something we have to evaluate as a matter of public policy. What it means is that if you have communities where the only face of government is law enforcement, it’s not investment in their schools, it’s not investment in their communities, in economic development, it’s law enforcement. And that’s not the fault of police. That’s the fault of policymakers who are making decisions about where their priorities are.”
In the summer of 2015, Edwards supported the nuclear deal that the Obama administration negotiated with Iran—an agreement allowing the terrorist regime in Tehran to inspect its own Parchin nuclear weapons research site, conduct uranium enrichment, build advanced centrifuges, buy ballistic missiles, fund terrorism, and have a near-zero breakout time to a nuclear bomb. (For additional details about the accord, click here.) Edwards had previously received financial support from the Iran Lobby, i.e., the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC).
In 2016, Edwards challenged Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Democrat Barbara Mikulski, who had announced her plans to retire. Edwards lost the Democratic primary election for that Senate seat on April 26, 2016, and subsequently left public office when her term in the House of Representatives expired in January 2017.
In September 2017, Edwards reacted angrily when President Donald Trump publicly criticized National Football League players (like Colin Kaepernick) who chose not to stand during the national anthem at the start of their games. In response to Trump’s remarks, Edwards tweeted: “On Sunday, I hope every @NFL player takes a knee in solidarity w @Kaepernick7 against the white supremacist who squats in our White House.”