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Mullin: Haaland Appointment 'Exciting' For Indian Country, But Reserving Judgment On Her Policies

Rep. Markwayne Mullin
In a March 4, 2020, file photo, from left, then-Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) and Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), members of the Native American Caucus, testify before a subcommittee.

Oklahoma Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin has been a staunch critic of President Biden and his White House, calling his policy priorities "radical," but on Friday he said he is reserving judgment on fellow Native Deb Haaland, the New Mexico Democratic Congresswoman-turned-Interior Secretary.

"You know, it will be interesting in her approach [sic]," Mullin told reporters at a press briefing on Friday following a roundtable discussion on the energy industry hosted by the Congressional Western Caucus at One Williams Center in downtown Tulsa. 

"When she was in Congress, she wasn't really too keen on the oil and gas industry, but there's a lot of Tribes that depend on that for a revenue source," Mullin, a Cherokee citizen, said. "So we'll see what happens, how she is at Interior."

Mullin, who said he had not yet met with Haaland since her confirmation,  was asked whether he took pride in Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo, becoming the first Indigenous Cabinet secretary, even considering their differences on policy.

"I mean, it's exciting to have someone that's going to be over Indian Country that's from Indian Country, but we still, yet, don't know what her policies are yet. So just because you're Native doesn't mean your policies are going to line up with all of Indian Country," Mullin said. 

Haaland's nomination was supported by leaders of at least two dozen Oklahoma Tribes, but opposed in the Senate by Oklahoma Republicans James Lankford and Jim Inhofe. She was confirmed in a 51-40 vote in March.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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