WASHINGTON — Despite freshman Rep. Markwayne Mullin's public plea for bipartisanship, the Oklahoma Republican's voting record in his first few weeks in Washington has been decidedly partisan.
And in some rare cases when bipartisan legislation cleared the House, Mullin was among a small minority in opposition.
Monday, just hours after a House speech in which he quoted George Washington and talked about common bonds, Mullin voted against a bill that passed 370-28 to guide federal agencies in preparing for public health emergencies such as pandemics. Members of both parties praised the bill Monday for its bipartisan support; it cleared the Senate without a dissenting vote.
Similarly, in February, he was one of only 27 House members to vote against a bill to create a network to research pediatric diseases; no additional spending was authorized.
In an interview Tuesday, Mullin said both bills represented the expansion of federal government, something he said he came to Washington to oppose.
Though the bill regarding public health emergencies mostly renewed preparedness programs already in place — and imposed no additional costs — Mullin questioned whether the federal government should even have a role, other than perhaps providing some financial aid.
“I'm willing to negotiate, but not compromise my core principles,” said Mullin, of Westville.
A majority of House Republicans and Democrats voted in January to increase the borrowing authority of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deal with the impact of Hurricane Sandy. Mullin was among the 67 opponents, all Republican.
On partisan votes — ones in which the majority of Republicans and the majority of Democrats are on opposite sides — Mullin has sided almost every time with his party.
Those votes included a bill supported by most Republicans to stop a pay increase for federal employees; the Violence Against Women Act, opposed by the majority of Republicans; and a bill to provide $50 billion in federal aid for Hurricane Sandy recovery projects, opposed by the majority of Republicans.
The one vote in which Mullin sided with a majority of Democrats against a majority of Republicans was on a measure to temporarily raise the debt ceiling; he voted against it.
There have been bills passed overwhelmingly that Mullin supported, including two Tuesday: one to stop illegal trafficking of tobacco in some U.S. territories and another that would require the president to estimate each taxpayer's share of the deficit when submitting a budget.
Earlier this year, he supported a bill that had only two dissenting votes to condemn North Korea for a nuclear test and another to reauthorize graduate medical education programs in children's hospitals.
In his speech Monday, Mullin said he was “committed to working with any member regardless of party to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
Tuesday, he said he was working with rank-and-file Democrats on issues regarding natural gas, transportation and state lakes.
“The (Democratic) members themselves — we get along,” Mullin said.
He said the two parties “have valid points” on immigration and should be able to reach an accord on a reform bill.