MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski grilled an Oklahoma Republican for continuing to insist on border wall funding in a spending bill to reopen the government.
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) appeared Thursday on "Morning Joe," where he faced tough questions from Brzezinski over the federal government shutdown that's hurting his constituents and fellow members of the Cherokee Nation.
"These are people you're especially concerned about and the impasse is over this billion-dollar funding for a border wall," Brzezinski said. "Isn't there a way to put that decision off perhaps, and vote to reopen the government, which is something I would think you would want?"
Mullin complained that congressional Democrats had approved $52 billion for the National Fence Act but refused to give President Donald Trump the $5 billion he demanded for a border wall, which the lawmaker said would improve national security.
"We might agree to disagree on whether the wall actually does that," Brzezinski said. "Let me ask you about a decision 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?"
The lawmaker said the most important consideration to him was the national security risk, and Brzezinski immediately headed him off.
"So the wall is more important at this point than ending the shutdown and the impact it has on your constituents?" she said.
Mullin claimed 300 Americans a week were killed by accidental overdoses related to drugs flowing across the southern border, which he said justified Trump's wall.
"We have a humanitarian crisis on our southern border, yes, that is a huge concern," he said. "Native Americans shouldn't be in this fight. The reason why they shouldn't, it's a federal obligation based on a trust, and the trust was because the United States forcefully moved Native Americans from their traditional lands years ago, and they said if you go from where you're traditionally at to someplace other, like my family got moved to Oklahoma, then in return we're going to take care of your health care."
Brzezinski wasn't convinced by his argument, and she asked whether his constituents agreed a wall would stop the flow of drugs.
"It's not just the wall, it's border security, too," Mullin said. "$805 million is to help scan vehicles coming across our port of entries. Right now only 20 percent of the vehicles get scanned coming into the United States, yet we've caught 1.7 million pounds of narcotics. With $850 million, we can inspect 100 percent of the vehicles as they flow in. Can you imagine the amount of drugs we can stop?"
Brzezinski said she could imagine, but she asked why Republicans and Democrats couldn't agree to that amount and move on without a wall to reopen the government.
"Your constituents are hurting -- that's on you," she said. "You have to decide what you want at this point."