Natalie Dunlap, Politics Editor

U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, said she wants the American Dream to be possible for everyone, so she is working to be part of a government to make that accessible. 

“There’s only one place where you can have a dream and you can have a desire and you can have a goal and you can set out a plan and you can work and you can achieve that goal,” Miller-Meeks said. “There’s only one place, and that’s here in the United States.”

The incumbent congressperson shared how she moved out of her parent’s house to pursue a college education and become a doctor after a grease fire accident left her with burns and inspired her to pursue a career in medicine. 

The University of Iowa College Republicans hosted Miller-Meeks to speak and meet with constituents on Wednesday in the Iowa Memorial Union in the North Room. On the same evening, Miller-Meek’s Democratic opponent also held an event at the IMU.

The UI was Miller-Meek’s sixth stop of the day in different Iowa counties on the campaign trail. Miller-Meeks said doing her residency in ophthalmology at the university was what first brought her to the state. 

Miller-Meeks has been a critic of President Joe Biden’s student debt forgiveness plan, which cancels up to $10,000 for non-Pell Grant recipients and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients making less than $125,000 a year. 

In an interview with The Daily Iowan, Miller-Meeks said the one-time debt cancellation does not address high college costs at the source and questioned how fair the program was to people who already paid off their loans. 

“One of the things that we can do is to certainly have universities and colleges have skin in the game so that if there are defaults on loans, do you have a university or college pay part of that or a percentage of that?” Miller-Meeks said. “So that the focus is more on advising students, counseling students, like we do with the Iowa Student Loan program.”

Wednesday was the first day for Iowans to vote early and the first day for auditors to send out absentee mail-in ballots. There was a satellite location for Johnson County voters to cast early ballots in the IMU basement. The location will also be open on Thursday and Friday.

As early voters cast their ballots, Miller-Meeks said she is hearing student voters concerned about crime and the environment.

Miller-Meeks is a member of the Conservative Climate Caucus and said she wants to work in a bipartisan fashion to make energy cleaner as well as affordable. 

“We need to have an energy strategy on how we’re going to produce the amount of electricity and energy that we need to meet increasing demands to lead to a cleaner, healthier planet,” she told the roughly 55 attendees. “But we need flexibility among the states to be able to do that. We need to be able to use a variety of energy sources and we need to be able to also innovate.”

She also said young people are worried about inflation. 

“They’re concerned about the high prices and that affects their hopefulness towards their future, their hopefulness to be able to start a career or have a family, buy their first home,” she told the DI

UI College Republicans treasurer Kyle Clare echoed that concern. 

“It’s hard on me having to buy a lot of things with inflation, so for me the cost of living is very important,” Clare said. 

Clare said lots of college students driving home to see family are feeling the impacts of gas prices.

Clare is originally from Illinois but is registered to vote in Iowa’s newly drawn 1st Congressional District. He said he plans to cast his ballot for Miller-Meeks on election day, Nov. 8. 

Miller-Meeks is running for her second term in office. She won her seat with a six-vote margin in 2020. Now, with new district boundaries, she is facing a challenge from state Rep. Christina Bohannan, D-Iowa City.