Edwards hopes her early start pays off
Freshman incumbent vows to get troops out of Iraq
After her stunning upset of eight-term incumbent Albert R. Wynn Jr. in the Feb. 12 Democratic primary, Donna F. Edwards got a surprise when Wynn resigned seven months early and a special election in June sent her to Congress.
Then, she got a fast start at high-stakes legislating when the financial market crisis hit this fall.
Edwards, a former foundation director, found herself staying up nights studying complicated emergency measures to provide a $700 billion taxpayer-backed bailout pushed by leaders as critical to stave off economic disaster.
She voted against the first House bill and pushed for more help for people facing foreclosure and more protections for taxpayers.
"I didn't think it did enough to get to the problem of home foreclosures," said Edwards, who lives in Fort Washington and left her job as director of a Washington-based foundation to take the House seat.
Foreclosures have had a devastating impact in District 4, which includes northern and eastern portions of Montgomery County, and western and southern Prince George's County.
In Prince George's, one in 341 households faced foreclosure filings in August, making it the only jurisdiction in Maryland where foreclosures exceeded the national average.
Edwards said she voted for the second bailout bill because intervention was necessary, and refinements, such as increasing federal insurance on bank deposits to $250,000, did more to protect people's savings.
She said she is still concerned that there "is not nearly enough regulatory framework" and that too much power is given to the treasury secretary in the measure, which President Bush signed into law Oct. 3.
Over the past eight years, Congress has ceded too much power to the executive branch, she said.
With colleague U.S. Rep. Christopher Van Hollen (D-Dist. 8), who represents most of southern and western Montgomery and a sliver of Prince George's, Edwards wants to give bankruptcy judges the authority to have homeowners facing foreclosure renegotiate their mortgage payments.
"We have to get back to a place where, even when people want more than they can afford, our systems don't allow that," Edwards said, adding that longer-term mortgages could be offered to make homeownership affordable, particularly as people are living and working longer.
To make health care available to everyone, Edwards said she would support a subsidy to small businesses whose bottom line leaves little room to offer insurance to employees.
"I don't worry about people who are doing great; I worry about people who are not doing well," Edwards said when asked what she would like as her legacy.
She also wants the government to set more "meaningful" education standards than in the current No Child Left Behind Act. And, it is crucial to reduce class size in poor communities, so teachers can focus on students who need more attention, she said.
On the war in Iraq, Edwards says a definite date for withdrawing troops needs to be set as soon as the next president takes office.
"We haven't enjoyed any political success there," she said.
At home, she said, Maryland's congressional delegation must coordinate support to build the Purple Line, a rail or bus line proposed to provide east-west connections between Metrorail's Red, Green and Orange lines.
"We have to get together on where it is in our state's priorities," said Edwards, who is a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as well as the Science and Technology Committee, and who supports dedicating more federal dollars to mass transit.
"If we are not together about that in our state, it will be competing with some other states" where they are, she said.
Edwards faces Republican Peter James in the Nov. 4 general election.
U.S. House of Representatives,
Maryland District 4
Residence: Fort Washington
Family: Separated, son Jared
Education: Law degree, Franklin Pierce Law Center; bachelor's degree in English and Spanish, Wake Forest University.
Web site: www.donnaedwards
E-mail address: donna@donna
Campaign headquarters: 3737 Branch Ave., Temple Hills, MD 20748
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