AUSTIN, Texas — The November election is now less than one month away, and KVUE is continuing to bring you interviews with the candidates who want to represent you in the U.S. House of Representatives.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D) has served as a congressman since 1995. Over the past 25 years, his district boundaries and numbers have changed.
But since 2013, he has represented District 35, which goes from Downtown Austin, includes slivers of Hays and Caldwell counties and stretches all the way to San Antonio.
This November election, Doggett is facing Republican Jenny Garcia Sharon. KVUE reached out to Sharon's campaign several times for an interview but did not hear back.
Doggett spoke with KVUE Political Anchor Ashley Goudeau about his reelection campaign.
Ashley Goudeau: Let's begin by telling our viewers why you're running for another term.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett: "Well, Ashley, I've been so fortunate to represent our community in the Congress. There are critical issues before us now; the future of our democracy itself is at stake in this election, and I'm running to continue to be an advocate for the people of Central Texas and San Antonio that I represent, to see that those who don't have a lobbyist or a limousine up here get a fair shake. And that will be my objective in dealing with a range of issues, as well as doing all I can to see that we get a new president."
Goudeau: You know, you've been in Congress since 1995, some 25 years now. And there are some people that will say this makes you a career politician and it is time for a change. What would you say to those folks?
Doggett: "Well, I would say that I believe we do need tremendous change in Washington. And it's a question of whether, combined with some of the newer members, the experience that I've gained here in Washington can help us to achieve that. I believe that I can continue to contribute to that.
Each day when I walk across the street to the Capitol and see that flag flying, I see it with great pride and with a recognition of how fortunate I have been that our neighbors have confidence in me to be their voice here in Washington and try and make a difference."
Goudeau: During your time in Congress, what do you believe has been your greatest accomplishment?
Doggett: "Well, I think the greatest has really been being that voice, often in the minority since Republicans have been in control of the Congress almost the entire time I've been here, to be a voice for our shared values. But some of the issues that I've worked on with success are one: educational opportunity, both in offering the American Opportunity Tax Credit provisions that provides significant assistance to students on tuition and books, as well as the work I've done more recently to simplify the FAFSA proposal, the applications for federal student assistance that many students were not using because you almost had to go to college in order to be able to complete the application. I want to continue working [in] that area.
Second, as now the Chair of the [Ways and Means Committee] Health Subcommittee, working on a wide range of health issues. Back at the time the Affordable Care Act was adopted, I served on the committee and had input on that. There are many improvements I now see there is an opportunity to make in that legislation.
And finally, I would say in the foreign policy area that so directly affects our lives. In the opposition, the role I played as a leader in opposing one of the worst foreign policy disasters in American history and that was the unjustified invasion of Iraq."
Goudeau: What do you feel, though, is still left for you to do after 25 years in Congress?
Doggett: "Oh, there is so much, so much more after the tragedy of four years of Donald Trump. Our health care, our protection for preexisting conditions, the fact that five million Texas citizens have no health insurance at all are issues that will be very high on my list to protect the coverage we have now and to see how we can get better Medicare for more Americans. That would relate, for example, in terms of making it better, to the work I've done to try to expand Medicare to cover hearing, dental and vision.
It would relate to the work that I would like to do in terms of seeing more people actually be eligible to get Medicare coverage. It relates to surprise billing, the fact that too many people go to get health care services and suddenly find they're getting a big bill they thought their insurance covered but does not because it's "out of network." And finally, the work I've done for a number of years taking on the big pharmaceutical companies who I think are engaged in incredible, exorbitant price gouging.
Those are some of the health care issues, but they're also a wide range within our Ways and Means Committee of tax issues that are of concern to me – the inequities in our tax code that allow some giant pharmaceutical manufacturers to pay a lower, lower rate on their earnings than the neighborhood pharmacy. We need to correct the injustices in that code.
Finally, we need to consider fiscal responsibility. This Congress has passed, necessarily, some significant spending measures and we need, as we go forward, to be concerned about ensuring that the taxpayer's dollar is better spent."
Goudeau: If you are reelected to Congress, what will be your top priority for the year 2021?
Doggett: "Well, there's not just one, there are many. But certainly health care, educational opportunity – and with health care, I might add, you know, we have so many Texans who will not be with us for the election or next year because of the denial, the delay and the ongoing deception from President Trump. We've got to get a better handle on this pandemic. I've been working actively this year to ensure that if we get a vaccine, it's a vaccine that we can have confidence in, that it's effective, that it doesn't have harmful side effects, that it grants immunity for more than a few weeks or months.
And so, there'll be really important issues concerning the pandemic. Until we get a good handle over health care and control the pandemic, we will never have sustained economic growth. So much of my work this year with President Trump and a Republican Senate – they're trying to block almost everything we do that's focused on individuals, individual businesses, small businesses in Central Texas that are struggling to try to get by, families who couldn't get through to the Texas Workforce Commission to get an unemployment check when they found themselves without a job through no fault of their own. So, it's working not only on the major issues in Washington but the individual needs of our neighbors. That will be my focus."
Goudeau: Give our viewers some final thoughts about why you believe they should elect you this November.
Doggett: "You know, Austin is the only place I've ever called home. I love our community. I've seen tremendous change in it. But it is a place that is a great place to make a home and to have a business. I believe that my appreciation and understanding of our community, the commitment I've shown to always try to make the priorities of our neighbors my priorities in Washington, that is something I can continue, to offer independent, constructive change here. I look forward to a happier new year with the new president and a new Congress when we can really begin to make progress on issues like the climate crisis, support for educational opportunity and, of course, to greatly strengthen our health care system."
Early voting in Texas runs Tuesday, Oct. 13 through Friday, Oct. 30. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.