Civic engagement more important than ever

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In this August 27, 2011 file photo, U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D) addresses Austinites at a community event. Doggett will be representing a new congressional district after winning Tuesday’s election.

Photo Credit: The Texas Tribune | Daily Texan Staff

Welcome to campus, Longhorns! Whether you are learning your way around campus or embracing your last year, we need thoughtful leaders like you. I implore you to get involved. As a lifelong Longhorn who grew up a few blocks from campus, met my wife on campus, and was originally elected to represent all University neighborhoods, I have learned so much here — and now am working to serve you. From federal issues like healthcare to climate change, I welcome your advice and advocacy.

GET INVOLVED

If there were ever a time for civic participation, it is now. Nothing less than our democracy is at stake. Visit https://www.votetravis.com to register to vote.

Call or email your U.S. Representative and Senators. You can reach my Austin office at 512-916-5921 or send me an email at Lloyd.Doggett@mail.house.gov. If you are interested in an internship in my Austin or Washington office, please email your cover letter, three professional references and résumé to my District Director, Erin Gurak, at Erin.Gurak@mail.house.gov. For updates on our daily efforts, follow @RepLloydDoggett on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

MAKING EDUCATION AFFORDABLE

Too many students and graduates are burdened with too much debt. We must address the student debt crisis in order to promote a strong economy, open up opportunities and ensure security. Funding gaps in our education system often perpetuate inequality — inequality standing in the way of the American Dream.

The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act this Congress presents an exciting opportunity to make college more affordable and make the process of applying for financial aid less complicated. I am leading two efforts that simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and help students apply for the aid they need. I also authored provisions in the American Opportunity Tax Credit, allowing a tax cut of up to $10,000 on education expenses such as tuition, textbooks and fees.

SUPPORTING DREAMERS

There is no excuse for President Trump and Republicans trying to end Dreamers’ protections and stonewalling our attempts to pass a pathway to citizenship. Our Democratic House of Representatives has passed H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act, which I sponsored and would provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status recipients. It is long past time to recognize Dreamers as the full-fledged Americans that they certainly are.

PRESERVING OUR SECURITY AND OUR DEMOCRACY

Ever since I was a student at UT, I have admired our thoughtful, open campus as a place for civil discourse — where we can learn to question our beliefs, better understand our neighbors and cultivate an interest in lifelong public service. As Winston Churchill said, “public service is the difference between a life and a livelihood.”

We need service-minded leadership now more than ever. After the horrifying attack in El Paso, we mourn those so cruelly lost. But it cannot stop there. Each of us must continue to speak out against domestic terrorism, violence and acts of hate, as well as the corrosive and un-American rot of white nationalism. We also need weeks and weeks of action for gun safety, not just moments of silence. Mass gun violence is an epidemic, enabled by those steadfastly refusing to approve gun safety measures — including even the modest, House-approved universal background check bill that Majority Leader McConnell refuses to take up in the Senate.

Change starts here, with you: Standing up for the safety and equality of all our neighbors. As you take on this school year, I hope you will also dedicate time to creating that change. I look forward to hearing from you. Hook ‘em!

Congressman Doggett represents Texas's 35th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.