Opinion: Rep. Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, silent on VAWA vote

Aura Bogado unsuccessfully tries to find out why Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma), a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, voted against S.47, a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act:
Native representation in Congress doubled as a result of the last election—from one to two representatives. In January, political newcomer Markwayne Mullin (Cherokee) joined Tom Cole (Chickasaw), who has served in the House since 2003. Both Republicans represent congressional districts in Oklahoma—and might illustrate what’s at stake when the Democratic Party fails to engage Native candidates. Representative Mullin voted against two versions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization yesterday, but won’t explain why.

Representative Cole, who has sometimes expressed frustration with lawmakers’ limited familiarity to grasp basic Native issues like tribal sovereignty, had worked with Darrell Issa (R-CA) to create a separate amendment. It would have allowed non-Native men the option to request their cases be removed to federal court—a move considered a good compromise by most Natives wanting to move the bill forward. But the Cole-Issa amendment was never even heard for debate.

Representative Mullin, meanwhile, voted not only against the Senate version but the House version as well. Phone calls and e-mails to his office and press secretary were met with silence all day yesterday—so it’s hard to determine why. Mullin, a Tea Party darling and Constitutionalist, ran a campaign on fiscal conservatism. Perhaps he didn’t like money being poured into a federal program that protects women. In the end, he was one of only twenty-seven House Republicans who voted against both reauthorization versions. As a first-term lawmaker, he has already illustrated that he won’t necessarily stand with other Natives and their best interests in Congress.

Get the Story:
Aura Bogado: Why Does Congress's Only Cherokee Member Keep Voting Against VAWA? (The Nation 3/1)

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