Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) told Breitbart News that House Democrats blocked his proposed legislation to fund Indian Health Services (IHS), whose annual funding is in jeopardy due ongoing partial federal government shutdown.
In a Tuesday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with host Rebecca Mansour, Mullin explained that Democrats on the House Rules Committee blocked his amendment, called the Pay Our Doctors Act, which would fund health services for Native Americans through the fiscal year. Democrats voted it down on an 8 to 4 party line vote.
Mullin explained, “In our district, we have a very high Native American population. In fact, I represent more tribes than any other district in the country. I have 19 separate tribes, which is 19 separate governments, essentially, in my district alone.”
Mullin continued, “Caught up in this fight is the Indian Health Services, because it’s part of the Interior, and the Interior is shut down, so the Bureau of Indian Affairs is underneath the Interior, and on the other side is the Indian Health Services. The tribes throughout my district is by far the largest employer in my 26 counties I represent.”
As the statement on Mullin’s congressional website noted, his amendment would “ensure that both tribally-run hospitals and Urban Indian Clinics receive the funding they need to pay their doctors and keep their doors open.” The statement explains:
During a government shutdown, tribally-run hospitals and Urban Indian Clinics do not receive annual funding, which is typically distributed in a lump sum at the beginning of a fiscal year. Hospitals and clinics are forced to make ends meet by using any remaining rollover funds from the previous year. If no funds are available, hospitals and clinics are forced to furlough or lay-off staff.
Mullin described the importance of the federal government’s treaty obligations to our sovereign Native Americans tribes.
“The issue we have right now is that even though it’s a federal obligation because Indian Health Services came out of treaties that were signed with tribes, we essentially removed them from their traditional land.” said Mullin. “[We] said, ‘If you move to this part of the country, mainly Oklahoma, we’re going to take care of X, Y, and Z for you’ as part of a treaty.”
Mullin went on, “Somehow that got caught up in this political crossfire, and in my opinion the federal government isn’t living up to their end of the bargain which is in breach of a trust, or the treaties to which it signed decades ago.”
Mansour noted Mullin’s belonging to the Cherokee Nation. “You are also a member of the Cherokee Nation, so this is close to home for you in many ways,” she said. “These are sovereign nations, sovereign tribes. We have a duty to them.“
Mullin replied, “I really appreciate you doing your homework on that, understanding that they’re sovereign nations, and it’s based on treaties. You’d be surprised how many — even among my colleagues — don’t understand that.”
Mullin added, “Border security is vitally important. There’s no question that we’re locked in on this fight, and we have the same win to fight for, so losing’s not an option here. We’re all in on securing our border. What I’m trying to do here is expose the federal obligation. The IRS is an agency that was created by Congress. The EPA and Interior were services that were outside of the original Constitution or federal obligations we have as a nation. The responsibility we have to Indian Country is a true federal obligation. it is no different than us having to pay our national debt or the interest on it, because it is a treaty we have signed with these tribes. So this is outside of just shutting down the government, this is still a federal obligation, regardless.”
Mullin stated, “So what we’ve been trying to do is make that argument to our colleagues on both sides, and so we put an amendment today in front of Rules; the Pay Our Doctors Act, and it was to make sure that during this government shutdown that the federal government doesn’t fail on their true responsibilities that we have to Indian Country.”
Mullin recalled how House Democrats shut down his funding proposals for funding of Indian Health Services.
“Unfortunately, I made the arguments, and then they didn’t let me stay in to receive questions,” stated Mullin. “In fact, the only questions came from the Republican side of the Rules Committee. Democrats never asked me a single question, and then they voted it down straight on party lines. I was extremely disappointed in that. I’m all about securing our border, but we also have to make sure we pay attention to the obligation that we have, because I feel like the federal government is going to actually get sued if this continues to go down this road, because we are in breach of the trust that we have with Indian Country, and we’re trying to cut that off.”
Mullin implored, “We consider this payment. We were promised something to give up all of our land, so this is considered still paying off a debt that they had because we gave up a whole lot of land that we really, really, really liked that we had been on for generations prior to this — which is called our traditional land — and we were moved, and they said they would take care of this for the rest of infinity, because there was no end to the treaty. So this is still considered payment for the land that they stole — truly stole — from Indian Country.”
Mansour asked what advice Mullin would offer President Donald Trump in pursuit of a deal with Democrats to fund southern border wall proposals.
“Democrats are running scared of Nancy Pelosi,” assessed Mullin. “Right now, they’re all getting their committee assignments. Committee assignment are vitally important up here. None of them want to feel like they’re working with the president, at this point, because Speaker Pelosi isn’t working with the president. So the freshman members, they don’t want to look like they’re pushing against leadership by going up there and trying to negotiate something with the president. They’re afraid that Speaker Pelosi will retaliate and not give them a committee assignment, at all, much less one of their choices. Behind the doors, that’s what’s going on.”
Mullin described Democrats as recalcitrant in opposition to Trump’s overtures for negotiation.
“The president has done everything that he can,” said Mullin. “He’s offered to make deals. There was an offer on the deal before Christmas which was for funding the border wall. We would in return offer DACA [and] TPS, which is a program set up under the Clinton and Bush administrations, and anyone that served in the military with an honorable discharge or is currently serving with honorable service, that we would give them legal status; not citizenship, but legal status. In return, though we wanted funding for the wall. We felt like we were making a fair offer. I know the White House is feeling like they were making a fair offer, and it went nowhere. It’s not even like we were negotiating. It was, ‘No, we’re not giving you a penny for the wall.'”
Mullin concluded, “At that point I don’t know what the president does. The president is obligated as commander-in-chief to make sure he’s doing all he can to protect the American people, and we have a huge national security risk on the southern border. We’ve known this for a long time. This is why in 2006 Chuck Schumer, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and even Joe Biden voted for the Secure Fence Act, which was to build no less than 700 miles of fence. If you look at the math of that, that was funded at $52 billion, which is about $74 million a mile, and they voted for it in 2006. Now, the only reason why they’re not doing it with President Trump is because of political reasons. That’s it, no other reason. So there’s no room to negotiate when people are making political decisions, and not rational decisions.”
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