Congressman discusses White House issues, North Korea, healthcare

Congressman Markwayne Mullin speaks to constituents at the Okmulgee Library.

By ASHLEY WOLSTONCROFT

Free-Lance Editor

 

North Korea is the United States largest threat, according to Rep. Congressman Markwayne Mullin.

Mullin visited Okmulgee County leaders late last week to discuss questions, including North Korea, health care and bipartisan interaction in the White House.

“There are very few things that I'm spending as much time on outside of health care as much as the situation with North Korea,” Mullin said. “Most of our current classified briefings at the White House have been focused on North Korea probably because last year a lot of our time was spent in the Middle East and we hadn't paid that much attention to what is going on in North Korea. We knew what was happening but weren't getting any information from the previous administration.”

Now, Mullin and the administration are receiving new data.

“We are getting new information about changes going on there and are realizing that it's a huge problem. North Korea has nuclear capabilities that are significantly different from what they were 8-9 months ago,” Mullin said.

He explained why a bill to sanction Russia, Iran and North Korea was not passed last month.

“The bill wasn't because of them dazzling in the election or for political reasons, but it was essentially about telling Russia that they will have to make a decision about who they want to do business with,” he said. “Right nowNorth Korea's economy is being sponsored primarily by Russia, and by China and Iran as well. The reason the president didn't want to sign it is because it would eliminate his ability to negotiate.”

Mullin said if the administration pushed Russia's president Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin too hard, they would receive repercussions.

“If you push a dog in a corner you are probably going to get bit, but we need flexibility to be able to negotiate,” Mullin said. “Now we are running out of time, so we need to do everything possible before we take the biggest step that nobody else wants to take.”

Mullin said he couldn't discuss the matter further without going into restricted classified information.

He also discussed what he believes is successful cooperation between Democrats and Republicans in the White House.

“Eighty-eight percent of national news now is being directed negatively at the White House. You've got to separate the facts from fiction,” Mullin said. “You're not getting the opportunity to hear the good news. I've spent the last four years underneath the last administration and eight months under the new administration, and I can tell you that the bipartisan partnership is growing.”

The reason for the change, according to Mullin, is a higher level of interaction with Congress under the Trump Administration.

“I respected the former man in the office but his interaction with Congress was non-existing, including discussions with the Department of Education, Department of Labor, Department of Justice, the IRS, the Department of Energy...neither democrats or republicans could get them to talk with us,” Mullin explained. “Since the Trump Administration has come in, it is very rare that I go to DC that a day goes by and I don't see the vice president or president at the capitol. Prior to that we'd only see the last president if it was a joint session because he passed most of his legislation through executive orders.”

Mullin said the new administration is more approachable, and vice president Mike Pence has made himself more available to both parties.

He gave an example of a recent bill passed at the White House involving pediatric cancer.

Three weeks ago, a bill was passed to allow child cancer victims to utilize medicines that were previously only distributed to adults.

“There were 900 available treatments for adults, but only a handful for children. You would think that the bill should have already passed, but we've been working on legislation trying to pass it for two years without any traction,” Mullin said. “The White House decided to get behind it three months ago and it didn't only pass with unanimous support in the house, but also 94-1 in the senate.”

The bill was the first bipartisan piece of legislation passed through both the house and the senate since 2008.

“That's because of the new bipartisan engagement that is being found in the White House,” Mullin said.

However, there is one topic democrats and republicans cannot agree on: health care.

“It is ideological. It's basically an us versus them mentality now,” Mullin said. “I have a good friend who is a democrat and I asked him how he could think Obamacare is successful when the average person has to pay over $12,000 in premiums and deductibles before using their health care.”

His friend responded by explaining that his family had fought for government ran health care for over 50 years, and there was no way he was backing off from that.

“I told him there was no room to fix it if that's his ultimate goal, because republicans' ultimate goal is to get it back in the hands of the patients,” Mullin said. “My point is that there is not even common ground for the two parties to talk in. With health care, there's just a line drawn and a wall built and it's just not going anywhere.”

 

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