MSNBC's Morning Joe cited an Associated Press report about Indian Country getting hit hard by the government shutdown.
"Fallout from the federal government shutdown is hurting Native Americans as dwindling funds hamper access to health care and other services. The pain is especially deep in tribal communities with high rates of poverty and unemployment, where one person often supports an extended family," the AP reported. "The effects were being felt far and wide."
So Morning Joe asked one of the four tribal citizens in Congress for a response, Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Oklahoma, Cherokee Nation. And Mullin is one of President Donald J. Trump's most vocal supporters in Congress, so the response was not what the show expected.
Host Mika Brzezinski asked: "I understand you were especially concerned with good reason, but can I start by asking if, if you, uh, if you were so concerned about the impact, why aren't we voting to end the shutdown?"
Mullin said "Well, I think it takes two sides. Look, right now there's a lot of federal workers and native Americans that are held political hostage because we're at an impasse. I don't think the president is asking a Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer do anything that they haven't done and that's to vote on border security, and so we're running a national risk, but we're doing it at the so at the cost of people that are innocent in this fight."
Brzezinski pressed. "Right? But, and, and these are people that you're especially concerned about, the impasse is over this billion dollar funding for a border wall. Is there a way to put that decision off? Isn't that a, isn't there a way to put that decision off perhaps and vote to reopen the government, which I would think that you would want."
Not going there. Mullin said that debate has already been extended for the past two years (when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress) and so it's now or never. He said "the only reason why we're here is because of a political promise and they see it as a political gain for the president. Nancy and Chuck both go to the same meetings that we go to and they both know it's a national security risk we have on our southern border."
Again she pressed: "Clearly you have to make politically what's more important to you, the wall or the impact of the shutdown on Native Americans in your district? "
Mullin answered "the most important thing is national security risk." He later added that Native Americans should not be in this fight. "The reason why they shouldn't because it's a federal obligation based on a trust and the trust was because they, the United States forcefully moved, forcibly moved, Native Americans from their traditional lands that years ago and said, 'if you go from where you're traditionally at to someplace either like, my family got moved to Oklahoma, then in return we're gonna, we're gonna take care of your health care, and this shouldn't be a fight. This shouldn't be caught up in this fight. Right?"
President Trump and Senate Republicans picked this fight when after refusing to consider appropriations bills that passed in the House and last year in the Senate.
Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter - @TrahantReports