Paul Cook

Paul Cook

CALIFORNIA's 8th DISTRICT

Congressman Cook Newsletter: August 26, 2014

2014/08/26

Capitol Update Editorial: U.S. Senate Needs to Get to Work Recent polling has made one thing clear: Americans are unhappy with Congress. I work there myself, and I have to tell you, I agree. Surprisingly, our biggest problem isn’t partisanship, it’s the Senate. While the House of Representatives has passed routine and exceptional legislation this year, the Senate is practically moribund, sitting on 364 bills passed by the House, 252 of which received strong bipartisan support. Moreover, the Senate has passed a budget only once since Barack Obama became president. What’s worse, the Senate’s inaction is based in part on the desire to protect politically vulnerable senators from taking tough votes. That’s unacceptable. It’s time for the do-nothing Senate to get to work and put our country above their careers. The biggest responsibility of Congress is to draft and pass the federal budget, a pivotal check against the authority of the president. Twelve bills in our annual appropriations dictate to federal departments how much can be spent and for what purpose. Having passed seven this year, the House is on track to complete all 12 prior to the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1. Unfortunately, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has yet to allow discussion on any of these bills in the Senate. The short remaining timeline makes it extremely likely that the government will go on life support via a “continuing resolution” just to keep government operating. Rather than debate our spending priorities, Reid’s inaction will lead to a thousand-page budget bill with little review. The American people deserve a better budget process. Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the responsibility to provide for our military. As a retired Marine colonel, I take this responsibility very seriously. The National Defense Authorization Act, which equips our troops and provides for national security, has a 52-year history of timely completion. That consistency is uncommon in Washington. The House passed this year’s version of the bill on May 22. Once again, Reid has refused to allow the Senate version of the bill onto the floor. If this bill expires, our military will no longer have the authority or the resources to protect our nation and its interests. This will only serve to encourage attacks by terrorist groups and rogue nations. In spite of a verbal commitment to provide comprehensive tax reform, the Senate Finance Committee has not provided a single bill that would accomplish this goal. Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., of the House Ways and Means Committee released a draft reform bill to start a discussion with the Senate, but it was met with nothing but partisan criticism. The House has answered the call by passing smaller reforms, renewing the Child Tax Credit, and modernizing the American Opportunity Tax Credit. The Senate has refused to act on even these common-sense tax reforms. Finally, while the House delayed its August district work period in order to pass a border security bill, Reid’s Senate took no action and simply left Washington. The Senate’s abrogation of duty paves the way for the president to issue unilateral and unconstitutional executive orders. This stifles public debate and ignores the American majority which demands fiscal responsibility and a secure border. What some might see as sour grapes from the House perspective, I see as fighting for the future of our country. We’re elected to serve. We’re elected to work. If Reid and other senators in power refuse to work, they must answer to the people. I’m urging House leadership and I urge all Americans to send the message to the Senate: Get to work now. Our country depends on it. This editorial first appeared in the San Bernardino Sun on August 21, 2014. The posted article can be read here. Twitter Town Hall I'll be hosting a Twitter town hall this Thursday, August 28, from 12:00PM to 1:00PM PST.  Anyone wishing to follow this town hall can visit my Twitter page, @RepPaulCook, on Thursday, August 28, between 12:00PM to 1:00PM PST. You do not need a Twitter account to view the town hall. Those wishing to ask questions, however, must have a Twitter account and can tweet me your questions using the hashtag #AskCook. Engaging with constituents across the 8th District remains one of my top priorities. I’m excited to find new ways to connect with the people, families, and communities I represent. Constituents are encouraged to participate by asking questions on Twitter throughout the course of the week. WHO: Representative Paul Cook, constituents WHAT: Cook Twitter Town Hall WHEN: August 28, 2014              12:00 PM – 1:00 PM PST WHERE: Follow along on my Twitter account @RepPaulCook  #AskCook I received a question from one of my constituents, Dana, asking me what I'm doing to help get Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi out of a jail in Mexico. Dana, Thank you for your question. Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi has been held in a Mexican jail since March 31 of this year for being in possession of firearms that were all legally registered under his name. The lack of cooperation and understanding from the Mexican government is troubling, and I cosponsored H.R. 620, calling on the Government of Mexico to send him home to the United States. Additionally, I have sent two letters – one to Sgt. Tahmooressi’s lawyer, another to the Mexican judge handling the case – urging the immediate release of Sgt. Tahmooressi. After two tours of duty in Afghanistan, Sgt. Tahmooressi suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He must receive the medical assistance this disorder requires here at home. This United States Marine must not be left behind. I’ll be using these next few weeks in California as a district work period, learning more about what I can do to better serve my constituents. Please send me your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #AskCook, or on Facebook by leaving a comment on my Facebook page. I'll be answering a couple questions each week and featuring them in next week’s newsletter. Be sure to follow me at @RepPaulCook and “like” my Facebook Page for updates.   District Update Visit to St. Mary’s Hospital Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with hospital administrators and constituents at St. Mary’s Hospital in Apple Valley. St. Mary’s offers a wide range of services that include wellness and prevention programs such as diabetes prevention education. The hospital is also home to the only open heart surgery program in the area. The work done by the staff at St. Mary’s is essential to the health and well-being of members of the High Desert community.     Visit to Crafton Hills College Campus Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa is teeming with fresh energy as students prepare for a new school year. Thank you to Dr. Cheryl Marshall, who took me on a tour of the campus’ facilities. As a former educator, it was great to be back on a college campus! I was excited to see the site of the future Public Safety and Allied Health Complex, which is set to open next summer. Whether you’re entering college as a new student, or returning to complete the next step of your education, I wish you all the best of luck. Study hard and make us all proud!   Veterans Corner My office is here to help you. If you or someone you know needs help with the Veterans' Administration please call my Apple Valley District Office at 760-247-1815. Victor Valley College: Veterans Services With the start of the new academic year approaching, it's important for our veterans going back to school to be aware of the veterans’ services offered on their campuses. Victor Valley College offers veterans’ services to help all student veterans, active duty military members, and VA dependents meet their educational and career goals. Veterans are eligible for certain benefits, such as priority class enrollment during the four years immediately after discharge from active duty. For more information, please visit the Victor Valley College Veterans Services Resource Page. Operation Take Charge The San Bernardino Vet Center will be hosting its monthly Vet2Vet Empowerment Connect event entitled “Operation Take Charge.” The purpose of this event is to help veterans get acclimated with the VA process, familiarize themselves with the Veteran & Family Member Services & Benefits, and to connect them with readjustment counselors. The event will be hosted from 3:30pm-4:30pm on Thursday, September 04, 2014, at the San Bernardino Vet Center: 1325 E. Cooley Dr., Suite 101, Colton, CA 92324. For more information, please call the San Bernardino Vet Center at (909) 801-5762.   Veterans History Project The Veterans History Project, formed in 2000, invites veterans of all wars to submit first-hand accounts of their experiences during their time in service. These personal accounts will be preserved and made accessible for future generations to learn about the wars in which the United States was involved from the men and women who fought in them. Additionally, U.S. citizen civilians who were involved in the war effort (i.e. war industry workers, medical volunteers, etc.) may also submit their personal accounts. For more information, please visit the project’s website.   Read More

US Senate Needs to Get To Work: Paul Cook

2014/08/22

Recent polling has made one thing clear: Americans are unhappy with Congress. I work there myself, and I have to tell you, I agree. Surprisingly, our biggest problem isn’t partisanship, it’s the Senate. While the House of Representatives has passed routine and exceptional legislation this year, the Senate is practically moribund, sitting on 364 bills passed by the House, 252 of which received strong bipartisan support. Moreover, the Senate has passed a budget only once since Barack Obama became president. What’s worse, the Senate’s inaction is based in part on the desire to protect politically vulnerable senators from taking tough votes. That’s unacceptable. It’s time for the do-nothing Senate to get to work and put our country above their careers. The biggest responsibility of Congress is to draft and pass the federal budget, a pivotal check against the authority of the president. Twelve bills in our annual appropriations dictate to federal departments how much can be spent and for what purpose. Having passed seven this year, the House is on track to complete all 12 prior to the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1. Unfortunately, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has yet to allow discussion on any of these bills in the Senate. The short remaining timeline makes it extremely likely that the government will go on life support via a “continuing resolution” just to keep government operating. Rather than debate our spending priorities, Reid’s inaction will lead to a thousand-page budget bill with little review. The American people deserve a better budget process. Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the responsibility to provide for our military. As a retired Marine colonel, I take this responsibility very seriously. The National Defense Authorization Act, which equips our troops and provides for national security, has a 52-year history of timely completion. That consistency is uncommon in Washington. The House passed this year’s version of the bill on May 22. Once again, Reid has refused to allow the Senate version of the bill onto the floor. If this bill expires, our military will no longer have the authority or the resources to protect our nation and its interests. This will only serve to encourage attacks by terrorist groups and rogue nations. In spite of a verbal commitment to provide comprehensive tax reform, the Senate Finance Committee has not provided a single bill that would accomplish this goal. Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., of the House Ways and Means Committee released a draft reform bill to start a discussion with the Senate, but it was met with nothing but partisan criticism. The House has answered the call by passing smaller reforms, renewing the Child Tax Credit, and modernizing the American Opportunity Tax Credit. The Senate has refused to act on even these common-sense tax reforms. Finally, while the House delayed its August district work period in order to pass a border security bill, Reid’s Senate took no action and simply left Washington. The Senate’s abrogation of duty paves the way for the president to issue unilateral and unconstitutional executive orders. This stifles public debate and ignores the American majority which demands fiscal responsibility and a secure border. What some might see as sour grapes from the House perspective, I see as fighting for the future of our country. We’re elected to serve. We’re elected to work. If Reid and other senators in power refuse to work, they must answer to the people. I’m urging House leadership and I urge all Americans to send the message to the Senate: Get to work now. Our country depends on it. Rep. Paul Cook, R-Yucaipa, represents California’s 8th Congressional District. Read More

Congressman Cook Newsletter: August 19, 2014

2014/08/20

Capitol Update California Droughts An article in yesterday's Los Angeles Times reported that the latest U.S. Drought Map report has drought levels listed as ‘severe’ across 99.8% of the California. Earlier this year, I cosponsored H.R. 3964, the "Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act,” to help end the water crisis in California. This vital legislation addresses the drought in California by cutting through the bureaucratic red tape that prevents timely water delivery to southern California. For years, California has been in a man-made drought as a result of federal regulations and environmental lawsuits. The recent lack of rainfall has severely exacerbated this drought.  This bill restores some water deliveries, ensures a reliable water supply, and saves taxpayer money by eliminating unnecessary government regulations. It’s possible to protect the environment while ensuring that California farmers and communities have access to a safe and reliable water supply. This bill restores balance to California water policy. H.R. 3964 was passed by the House but has stalled in the U.S. Senate. It’s time for the Senate to step up and do what’s right. California can’t afford to wait any longer. Updating the Endangered Species Act Earlier this summer, I voted in support of H.R. 4315, the “Endangered Species Transparency and Reasonableness Act.” This bill focuses on sensible, targeted updates to the Endangered Species Act to increase transparency and improve species recovery. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was crafted in 1973 to preserve, protect, and recover key domestic species. Since the law has been enacted, 1,500 species and sub-species have been listed. Today, the law is failing to achieve its primary purpose of species recovery; only two percent of all listed species have recovered. This legislation helps update the ESA and bring it into the 21st Century by making the law more effective for species and people. It requires data used by federal agencies for ESA listing decisions to be made publically available and accessible through the internet and also requires the federal government to disclose state data used prior to an ESA listing decision.  Under this legislation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be required to track, report to Congress, and make available online the federal taxpayer funds used to respond to ESA, the number of employees dedicated to ESA litigation, and attorneys’ fees awarded in the course of ESA lawsuits.  Finally, this bill prioritizes species protection and tax payer dollars by placing reasonable caps on attorneys’ fees to make the ESA consistent with existing federal law. Too often the ESA serves special interests who want to block economic growth rather than save endangered species. This good government bill brings this act into the 21st century by improving transparency and protecting taxpayer money. District Update Twitter Town Hall I’m pleased to announce that I'll be hosting a Twitter Town Hall on Thursday, August 28, from 12:00PM to 1:00PM PST.  Anyone wishing to follow this town hall can visit my Twitter page, @RepPaulCook, on Thursday, August 28, between 12:00PM to 1:00PM PST. You do not need a Twitter account to view the Town Hall. Those wishing to ask questions, however, must have a Twitter account and can tweet me your questions using the hashtag #AskCook. Engaging with constituents across the 8th District remains one of my top priorities. I’m excited to find new ways to connect with the people, families, and communities I’m proud to represent. Constituents are encouraged to participate by asking questions on Twitter throughout the course of the week. WHO: Representative Paul Cook, constituents WHAT: Cook Twitter Town Hall WHEN: August 28, 2014              12:00 PM – 1:00 PM PST WHERE: Follow along on my Twitter account @RepPaulCook Salute to America Event Last week, I attended the Victor Valley chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors’ “Salute to America” event. It was great meeting with hundreds of attendees including local realtors and business owners. Hard-working men and women such as these play a vital role in keeping our local economies strong and vibrant. While at the event, I had the pleasure of bumping into one of my former Apple Valley Office Interns. A portion of the event's proceeds are going to the home of a local Barstow veteran. High Desert Job Fair Last week, members of my staff attended the 2014 High Desert Job Fair. The job fair was sponsored by the San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board. I'm excited that the fair brought in large numbers of people and had a strong showing by prospective local employers.  Veterans Corner VEG – Therapeutic Garden for Disabled American Veterans Earlier this summer, members of Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Chapter 12, partnered with the Home Depot Foundation to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to over a thousand homeless veterans across the county.  Working out of a three-quarter-acre space in the Rick Speicher Family Memorial Park in San Bernardino, the effort by the DAV not only provided fresh produce for San Bernardino’s homeless vets, but also served as a therapeutic outlet to help combat veterans deal with post-traumatic stress disorder and self-imposed isolation.  As a veteran, I applaud efforts these efforts by the community to help our veterans in need. I will continue to fight to fix our nation’s broken VA programs. Read More

Congressman Cook Newsletter: August 12, 2014

2014/08/12

Capitol Update  U.S. Air Strikes in Iraq Iraq is on the verge of a full scale sectarian conflict as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made significant gains during its offensive in Northern Iraq. ISIS has captured a number of cities, oil refineries, and a major dam that provides electricity to the region and could be used to flood major cities in Iraq. ISIS has also been abducting women and children, forcing religious minorities, including Christians, to convert to Islam or face execution, and carrying out suicide bombings and other attacks throughout Iraq. The deteriorating security situation and humanitarian crisis resulted in the U.S. conducting several airstrikes against ISIS. Additionally, the U.S. conducted a series of airdrops to provide food and water to ISIS victims who fled to the mountains to escape ISIS. This is in addition to the U.S. military advisors already providing assistance to the Iraqi military and the increased security presence at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.     District Updates Meetings with Mountain Community after Storms Last week, I met withresidents of Mt. Baldy and Forest Falls to assess damage done to homes andproperty by mudslides over the past few days. The storms have destroyed homes and properties throughout the area and have left thousands stranded without essential services. Local residents were out in force helping clear debris from homes and neighborhood streets. What I saw last week was an inspiring display of compassion and kindness amidst all the destruction.  The citizens of these communities demonstrated strength and character in the face of adversity by coming together to begin the process of rebuilding. Neighbors came to the aid of neighbors. Volunteers, non-profit organizations, church congregations, and local and state officials joined in to help those most heavily affected by the mudslides. In the coming days my staff and I will be closely monitoring this situation, and we’ll do all we can to assist in the rebuilding of these communities. If you should have any questions, please contract my Apple Valley District Office at 760-247-1815.   Local Colleges Appoint New Leadership Recently, both Copper Mountain College (CMC) and Victorville Valley College (VVC) appointed new presidents. Last month, VVC hired Roger Wagner to the position of President and Superintendent. The appointment to his new position at VVC is Wagner’s latest step in his long, successful career in education. Wagner had previously served as the President of CMC. Replacing Wagner at CMC will be Jeff Cummings. Before his move to CMC, Cummings was the executive dean of academic affairs at the College of Redwoods in Eureka.  #AskPaul ! This week, one of my Constituents, Bill, asked me, “What do you think about the possible Constitutional Amendment to control the amount of money people can give to someone in a campaign?” Bill, I’m a strong supporter of the First Amendment, and believe that the right to free speech is one of the most sacred protections we have as Americans. Just as Americans can debate their political beliefs in public forums, they now have the ability to provide financial support to the candidate that they believe will best represent them and their beliefs. I believe that such a constitutional amendment would mute the ability of Americans to make their voices heard. We need more free speech, not less. I’ll be using these next few weeks in California as a district work period, learning more about what I can do to better serve my constituents. Please send me your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #AskPaul, or on Facebook by leaving a comment on my Facebook page. I will be answering a couple questions each week and featuring them in next week’s newsletter. Be sure to follow me at @RepPaulCook and “like” my Facebook Page for updates.   Veterans Corner VA Announces New Grants to Help End Veterans Homelessness The Department of Veterans Affairs today announced that it will be awarding $300 million in grants for veterans and their families who are homeless or are at-risk for becoming homeless. These grants will be allocated to non-profits, community agencies, and consumer cooperatives that work to promote housing stability for low-income veteran families. The funding will go to provide improved outreach, case management, and assistance in securing VA benefits. More information about VA’s homeless programs is available at www.va.gov/homeless.  Details about the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program are online at www.va.gov/homeless/ssvf.asp. Veterans Job Fair On Friday, September 19, 2014, the Jessie Turner Center in Fontana will be hosting a Veterans Job Fair from 9:30am to 2pm. This event will feature a variety of employment opportunities, including representatives from over 50 veteran-friendly. The job fair will be open to all job seekers, both veteran and non-veteran. Come dressed to impress, and be sure to have copies of your resume and cover letter ready. Read More

Rep. Paul Cook Meets With Mountain Community in Wake of Storm

2014/08/07

WASHINGTON – Rep. Paul Cook (R – Apple Valley) met with residents of Mt. Baldy and Forest Falls to assess damage done to homes and property by mudslides over the past few days. The storms have destroyed homes and properties throughout the area and have left thousands stranded without essential services. Local residents were out in force helping clear debris from homes and neighborhood streets. Cook said, “What I saw yesterday was an inspiring display of compassion and kindness amidst all the destruction.  The citizens of these communities demonstrated strength and character in the face of adversity by coming together to begin the process of rebuilding. Neighbors came to the aid of neighbors. Volunteers, non-profit organizations, church congregations, and local and state officials joined in to help those most heavily affected by the mudslides. “In the coming days my staff and I will be closely monitoring this situation, and we’ll do all we can to assist in the rebuilding of these communities.” A member of the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Veterans’ Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. Read More

Congressman Cook Newsletter: August 5, 2014

2014/08/05

Capitol Update A Message from Congressman Cook Regarding Area Storms and Mud Slides “As you know, heavy rain storms are currently battering southern California towns and cities, destroying homes and property, and leaving thousands stranded and without electricity throughout the area. My staff and I are monitoring the situation closely, and are doing all we can to assist those affected by these floods. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone. "In the coming days, we will be coordinating with federal and local officials in the immediate area to begin the process of rebuilding our communities. "If you should have any questions, please contract my Apple Valley District Office at 760-247-1815.” Securing the Southern Border Last week, Congressman Paul Cook voted in support of H.R. 5230 and H.R. 5272. These bills address the ongoing crisis taking place on the southern border by redirecting resources to boost border security and closing a loophole that had prevented illegal immigrants from non-contiguous countries (primarily in Central America) from being swiftly returned to their home countries. Both bills passed out of the House of Representatives and now await action by the United States Senate. H.R. 5230 provides additional resources to increase the National Guard’s presence on the border and to accelerate judicial proceedings by hiring more immigration judges. Additionally, it closes a loophole that prevented hundreds of thousands of children from being quickly reunited with their families in their home countries. Under current law, unaccompanied children from Mexico or Canada can be screened within 48 hours and quickly returned to their home countries. However, children from countries other than Mexico and Canada must go through a time-consuming legal process. Typically, these children wait nearly 600 days for a hearing. H.R. 5272 aims to eliminate the program most responsible for creating the current border crisis. President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has led to waves of unaccompanied minors entering the United States illegally to take advantage of the amnesty that it offers. DACA was created by the President in 2012 through an executive order, bypassing Congress’ constitutional role in creating new laws. H.R. 5272 will put an end to this by immediately freezing all funding for this lawless program. Cook said, “I’m glad the House stayed in session until this vital legislation was passed. The American people demanded action, and the House was willing to stay in session as long as it took to answer their call. This border crisis is one of the most serious national security issues facing America, and it’s a dereliction of duty that the Senate has gone on vacation without addressing the border. The Senate needs to follow the House’s example, get back to work, and pass these vital bills. Senators should put the security of America ahead of their summer vacations.”  Bipartisan Push to Reform VA Becomes Law Congressman Paul Cook voted in support of H.R. 3230 - Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014. This bill, which passed the House with wide bipartisan support, is the result of an agreement reached between the House and Senate to reform the Veterans’ Administration (VA). This reform bill will reduce wait times, improve care, and provide accountability by fixing three important areas of the VA. First, this bill allows veterans to seek care from the private sector if they live forty miles away from a VA medical facility or have been assigned a wait time longer than thirty days. This will give veterans access to quality care within a reasonable timeframe. It will also improve the quality of care by providing rehabilitation, quality of life, and community integration services to veterans with traumatic brain injuries and will improve the delivery of care to veterans who experienced military sexual trauma. Second, this bill will bring accountability to the VA by giving the Secretary authority to fire Senior Executive Service Employees for poor performance or misconduct. It also reduces bonuses given to VA employees by $40 million every year.  Despite the multitude of serious and even deadly issues at the VA, senior executives were awarded millions in bonuses. This provision will ensure that these funds are applied to veteran care, not bureaucrats. Finally, this bill requires public universities to guarantee veterans receive in-state tuition while using the G.I. Bill. It also provides full Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to spouses of service members who died in the line of duty after 9/11. Cook said, “The VA has failed our veterans for too long, and this bill holds them accountable while providing the reforms and resources needed to care for America’s veterans. I’m thrilled to have supported a bill that takes a huge step in the right direction for our veterans. I’ll continue to work to ensure the VA never again forgets its mission to serve our nation’s heroes.” The House passed H.R. 3230 on Wednesday, July 30th, while the Senate passed it the following day on Thursday, July 31st. The bill is before President Obama awaiting his signature.   District Update Stay in touch with me this August -Send Me Your Questions on Twitter and Facebook Using #AskPaul ! I’ll be using these next few weeks in California as a district work period, learning more about what I can do to better serve my constituents. I want to keep in close touch with the people of my district, and would like a chance to answer any questions you may have for me. Please send me your thoughts on Twitter using the hashtag #AskPaul, or on Facebook by leaving a comment on my Facebook page. I will be answering a couple questions each week and featuring them in this newsletter. Be sure to follow me at @RepPaulCook and “like” my Facebook Page for updates. I look forward to hearing from you. I-15 Cajon Pass 65-Hour Weekend lane Closures Please be advised - The northbound I-15 freeway will be periodically reduced from four lanes down to two lanes between Highway 139 and Oak Hill Road for highway resurfacing and restoration. The closures will span approximately one mile, and will take place over five consecutive weekends starting Friday, August 8th. Each weekend lane closure will begin Friday night at 10pm and will end the following Monday at 3pm. Job Fair in Victorville The San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board will host the 2014 High Desert Regional Job Fair on August 13, 2014 from 9:00AM to 1:00PM at the Hilton Garden Inn. This event will offer business owners the chance to meet, interview and hire high-quality, experienced workers to fill full and part-time positions. The job fair is made possible by collaboration between the High Desert cities, Chamber of Commerce offices, El Dorado Broadcasters, and the Daily Press. The address to the Hilton Garden Inn is 12603 Mariposa Road in Victorville, CA 92395. If you are an employer interested in taking part, register no later than August 11, 2014 by clicking here. Veterans Corner VA Medical Center Hosts Transportation Fair On August 6, 2014 from 8:00AM to 12:00PM, there will be a Transportation Options and Independence Resource Jobs Fair taking place at the main entrance to the Veteran Affairs Medical Center Loma Linda Hospital.  There will be refreshments, information, and giveaways. Please see the flier below for more information, or contact Valdo Maysonet at 909-980-2857 ext. 250 or Melissa Chancay at 909-825-7084 ext. 1642. Read More

Rep. Paul Cook Votes To Secure the Southern Border

2014/08/04

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Paul Cook (R – Apple Valley) voted in support of H.R. 5230 and H.R. 5272. These bills address the ongoing crisis taking place on the southern border by redirecting resources to boost border security and closing a loophole that had prevented illegal immigrants from non-contiguous countries (primarily in Central America) from being swiftly returned to their home countries. Both bills passed out of the House of Representatives and now await action by the United States Senate. H.R. 5230 provides additional resources to increase the National Guard’s presence on the border and to accelerate judicial proceedings by hiring more immigration judges. Additionally, it closes a loophole that prevented hundreds of thousands of children from being quickly reunited with their families in their home countries. Under current law, unaccompanied children from Mexico or Canada can be screened within 48 hours and quickly returned to their home countries. However, children from countries other than Mexico and Canada must go through a time-consuming legal process. Typically, these children wait nearly 600 days for a hearing. H.R. 5272 aims to eliminate the program most responsible for creating the current border crisis. President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has led to waves of unaccompanied minors entering the United States illegally to take advantage of the amnesty that it offers. DACA was created by the President in 2012 through an executive order, bypassing Congress’ constitutional role in creating new laws. H.R. 5272 will put an end to this by immediately freezing all funding for this lawless program. Cook said, “I’m glad the House stayed in session until this vital legislation was passed. The American people demanded action, and the House was willing to stay in session as long as it took to answer their call. This border crisis is one of the most serious national security issues facing America, and it’s a dereliction of duty that the Senate has gone on vacation without addressing the border. The Senate needs to follow the House’s example, get back to work, and pass these vital bills. Senators should put the security of America ahead of their summer vacations.” A member of the House Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Veterans’ Affairs Committees, Cook represents San Bernardino, Inyo, and Mono counties. Read More

Rep. Paul Cook Votes to Reform VA

2014/07/30

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Paul Cook (R – Apple Valley) voted in support of H.R. 3230 - Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014. This bill, which passed the House with wide bipartisan support, is the result of an agreement reached between the House and Senate to reform the Veterans’ Administration (VA). This reform bill will reduce wait times, improve care, and provide accountability by fixing three important areas of the VA. First, this bill allows veterans to seek care from the private sector if they live forty miles away from a VA medical facility or have been assigned a wait time longer than thirty days. This will give veterans access to quality care within a reasonable timeframe. It will also improve the quality of care by providing rehabilitation, quality of life, and community integration services to veterans with traumatic brain injuries and will improve the delivery of care to veterans who experienced military sexual trauma. Second, this bill will bring accountability to the VA by giving the Secretary authority to fire Senior Executive Service Employees for poor performance or misconduct. It also reduces bonuses given to VA employees by $40 million every year.  Despite the multitude of serious and even deadly issues at the VA, senior executives were awarded millions in bonuses. This provision will ensure that these funds are applied to veteran care, not bureaucrats. Finally, this bill requires public universities to guarantee veterans receive in-state tuition while using the G.I. Bill. It also provides full Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to spouses of service members who died in the line of duty after 9/11. Cook said, “The VA has failed our veterans for too long, and this bill holds them accountable while providing the reforms and resources needed to care for America’s veterans. I’m thrilled to have supported a bill that takes a huge step in the right direction for our veterans. I’ll continue to work to ensure the VA never again forgets its mission to serve our nation’s heroes.” A member of the House Veterans’ Affairs, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.   Read More

Rep. Paul Cook Votes to bring Endangered Species Act into the 21st Century

2014/07/29

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Paul Cook (R – Apple Valley) voted in support of H.R. 4315, the “Endangered Species Transparency and Reasonableness Act.” This bill focuses on sensible, targeted updates to the Endangered Species Act to increase transparency and improve species recovery. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was crafted in 1973 to preserve, protect, and recover key domestic species. Since the law has been enacted, 1,500 species and sub-species have been listed. Today, the law is failing to achieve its primary purpose of species recovery; only two percent of all listed species have recovered. This legislation helps update the ESA and bring it into the 21st Century by making the law more effective for species and people. It requires data used by federal agencies for ESA listing decisions to be made publically available and accessible through the internet as well as requiring the federal government to disclose state data used prior to an ESA listing decision. Under this legislation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be required to track, report to Congress, and make available online the federal taxpayer funds used to respond to ESA, the number of employees dedicated to ESA litigation, and attorneys’ fees awarded in the course of ESA lawsuits. Finally, this bill prioritizes species protection and tax payer dollars by placing reasonable caps on attorneys’ fees to make the ESA consistent with existing federal law. Cook said, “Too often the ESA serves special interests who want to block economic growth rather than save endangered species. This good government bill brings this act into the 21st century by improving transparency and protecting taxpayer money.” A member of the House Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Veterans’ Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.   Read More

Congressman Cook Newsletter: July 29, 2014

2014/07/29

Capitol Update EDITORIAL: It's our turn to save veterans' lives at home Veterans of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts bear both the physical and mental scars of war. As a combat veteran, I understand this all too well. Our nation has a moral responsibility to ensure the brave men and women who have defended our country receive the care they need. Veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and other combat-related mental trauma deserve access to high-quality mental health treatment. Unfortunately, too often we fail to provide the care they need to sustain and thrive in civilian life. Far too many of our brave service members are lost to suicide, often stemming from the invisible mental trauma of combat and conflict. It’s estimated that approximately 20 veterans commit suicide every day. This means over 7,000 veterans die from suicide each year, a death toll that far exceeds even the worst year for American casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq combined. It’s shameful that our troops survive tours of duty overseas only to die back home. Over the past months, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been rocked by revelations that scheduling and wait lists for medical services have been manipulated, and veterans are dying while waiting for the care they’ve earned. As these abuses are systemic, similar problems likely exist within the VA’s mental health department. This is why the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has held hearings to shine a light on the often overlooked problem of mental health. I’ve participated in countless committee hearings, but none hit me quite as hard as last week’s hearing that addressed veteran suicide. During the hearing, I learned that veterans seeking mental health care typically wait six months for an appointment. If the veterans admit they’re contemplating suicide, the wait time is still three months. This is entirely unacceptable; a person serious about suicide needs immediate attention. It’s no wonder we lose 20 veterans to suicide every day. Veterans experiencing mental health issues while transitioning to civilian life often avoid seeking treatment out of fear of being stigmatized by employers or because they believe it is viewed as a weakness. Additionally, many veterans who do seek treatment find it difficult to open up to someone without military experience. I believe the mental health workers at the VA are well trained and qualified, but many of them have never served in uniform, let alone on the battlefield. Veterans are a unique population that requires greater access to peer-to-peer counseling, veteran advocates and improved forums to work with other veterans in a group setting. While these resources exist, it is the job of Congress and the VA to make sure they are efficient and effective. To date, we have fallen far short of this laudable goal. There are no easy solutions to improving veterans’ mental health care, but we owe it to them to keep working on this issue. I’ll continue my work as an advocate for these heroes in Congress and will push my colleagues in the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to provide the oversight, resources and reforms the VA needs. Our veterans were willing to give their lives to keep us safe, and now it’s time for America to save their lives here at home. This editorial first appeared in the Press Enterprise on July 23, 2014. This posted article can be read here. VA Crisis Update I’m pleased to announce the House and Senate have reached an agreement on a comprehensive bill to reform the Veterans’ Administration (VA). The bill will do the following: Allows veterans to seek care from the private sector if they live 40 miles away from a VA medical facility or have been assigned a wait time longer than thirty days;  Authorizes the VA to fire Senior Executive Service Employees for poor performance or misconduct;  Reduces bonuses given to VA employees by $40 million every year;  Provides rehabilitation, quality of life, and community integration services to veterans with complex-mild to severe traumatic brain injury;  Improves the delivery of care to veterans who have experienced military sexual trauma as well as care for Native Hawaiian and Native American veterans;  Requires public universities to give veterans in-state tuition while using the G.I. Bill regardless of what state they reside in;  Provides full Post 9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to spouses of service members who died in the line of duty after 9/11;  The VA has failed our veterans for too long and this bill holds them accountable while providing the reforms and resources needed to care for America’s veterans. It will be voted on later this week. Please stay tuned for more information to come in next week’s newsletter. Access to Higher Education Expanded Congressman Cook voted in support of H.R. 4812, the “Student and Family Tax Simplification Act.” With tuition prices at an all-time high, this bill helps ordinary Americans afford a higher education. This bill consolidates four current tax benefits (the American Opportunity Tax Credit, the Hope Scholarship credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit, and the college tuition deduction) into one new, simplified American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). It gives students and their families a 100 percent tax credit for the first $2,000 of their educational expenses and a 25 percent credit for the next $2,000 of educational expenses. This will provide a total deduction of up to $2,500. The first $1,500 of the tax credit is refundable, which will provide meaningful tax relief for even the poorest students. This will help more students pursue their dreams of attending college and prepare them for the workforce. Additionally, students attending college on Pell Grants will no longer be penalized by having grant money count as income for tax purposes. This will reduce the number of students who must pay taxes out of pocket for receiving Pell Grant money, allowing them to spend their money on books and supplies, rather than spending it paying the Internal Revenue Service. Cook said, “I’m proud to support this common sense bill that simplifies the tax code to benefit students. This will prevent financial barriers from blocking students’ pursuit of the education they need to succeed. This bill eases some of these financial burdens and encourages future job and economic growth.” More Educational Innovation for Classrooms Congressman Cook voted in support of H.R. 3136, the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act. This bill supports innovation across our nation’s higher education institutions. Currently, our nation’s colleges are developing new models of education that can measure students’ actual learning rather than just the time they spend in the classroom. New educational opportunities will allow students to meet specific personal and financial needs. Unfortunately, outdated federal policies do not allow this to happen. H.R. 3136 corrects the innovation gap that exists by directing the Secretary of Education to implement competency-based education demonstration projects. This bill will provide accountability by requiring an annual evaluation of each project in terms of financial obstacles and legal barriers. It will also give flexibility to institutions that want to provide students a more personalized, cost-effective education. Cook said, “Too many Americans are struggling to turn the dream of a higher education into reality. This bill transforms higher education and encourages more innovation, enhances transparency, and helps students make wise financial decisions. As a former college educator, I understand the need to have an education system that reflects the real needs of our local communities. Education is a long term investment, and this is a win for students.” People Are Not For Sale Congressman Cook voted in support of H.R. 5135, the Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act. This legislation works to better prevent and intervene when trafficking or attempted trafficking occurs while opening up additional resources for survivors who are working to recover. This bill will launch a review by the Interagency Task-Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking that will look into federal and state trafficking prevention activities. The review will be done in consultation with non-governmental organizations and will work to identify and develop best practices to prevent trafficking. It requires an inventory of existing federal anti-trafficking efforts by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office to make sure all federal agencies and programs work together and that federal resources are being targeted where needed. Finally, H.R.5135 improves existing Department of Justice grants by allowing the grants to also support shelters for survivors. Currently, there are just 200 beds available in the United States for underage victims. Congressman Paul Cook was a cosponsor of H.R. 5135. District Update From the Desert to DC – By: Justin (DC Intern) “Having spent the majority of my life in the High Desert, and the entirety of it in California, moving to Washington D.C. for the summer was a monumental change for me. Not really knowing what to expect when I flew out here in late spring, I felt overwhelmed with both nerves and excitement for what I was about to get into. For as long as I can remember, I‘ve always been fascinated with Congress and this internship  finally gave me a real chance to answer some of my pent up curiosity. Everything felt like it was happening so fast, but I couldn’t wait to get started and see how it all really works from an insider perspective. "Working as an intern this summer for Congressman Cook gave me an incredibly valuable firsthand look at how our legislative body truly operates. Having studied Political Science for three years at the California State University of Fullerton, I came into the office my first day with what I thought was a pretty substantial understanding of the political process; however, I quickly realized there is much more to it than what you read in books or learn in class. Congress is a complex, yet deliberate system that relies on so many individuals working together to make things happen. The people I have had the pleasure to work with are extremely devoted and passionate about serving the public, and genuinely care about the people they work for. This summer has been one of the best learning experiences of my life and I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to help serve the people of California’s 8th district, my home.”   Job Fair in Victorville The San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board will host the 2014 High Desert Regional Job Fair on August 13, 2014 from 9:00AM to 1:00PM at the Hilton Garden Inn. This event will offer business owners the chance to meet, interview and hire high-quality, experienced workers to fill full and part-time positions, organizers say. The job fair is made possible by the collaboration between the High Desert cities, Chamber of Commerce offices, El Dorado Broadcasters, and the Daily Press. The address to the Hilton Garden Inn is 12603 Mariposa Road in Victorville, CA 92395. If you are an employer interested in taking part, register no later than August 11, 2014 by clicking here.  Veterans Corner Employment Development Department The Employment Development Department (EDD) assists veterans and their eligible spouses in maximizing their employment and training opportunities. Veterans can use many resources designed to help in their search for employment. The EDD veterans’ representatives specialize in assisting veterans in their efforts to return to work and are located in many local EDD offices. Services provided include a veteran 24-hour priority hold on all job listings, customized job search assistance, job fairs, employer recruitments, and other events and resources. Veterans are encouraged to schedule an appointment with an EDD veterans’ representative for personalized services and assistance. More information can be found here. Please be sure to follow me on Twitter (@RepPaulCook), find me on Facebook (Facebook.com/RepPaulCook), and subscribe to my YouTube Channel (YouTube.com/RepPaulCook)- See you there! Read More

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Contact Information

1222 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-5861
Fax 202-225-6498
cook.house.gov

Col. Paul Cook (ret.) was elected to serve in the US House of Representatives in November 2012.  He represents California’s 8th Congressional District which includes the high desert communities of San Bernardino County as well as Mono and Inyo counties.  He currently serves on the House Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, and Veterans’ Affairs committees.

An infantry officer who served with distinction in the United States Marine Corps and a veteran of the Vietnam War, Col. Cook’s military career spanned twenty-six years. His actions in combat earned him a number of honors, including two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star Medal with a V for valor. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1992 as a colonel.

After retirement, Cook continued his service by seeking and winning a seat on the Yucca Valley Town Council, ultimately serving as Mayor. He became known for his commitment to conservative fiscal policies that protected working families from higher taxes.

In 2006, Cook’s neighbors elected him to represent them in the California State Assembly. Since then, he has distinguished himself by tackling some of the most important issues of the day, like fighting government corruption, reducing taxes, and increasing penalties on sex offenders who prey on children. As Chairman of the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee, he has been a tireless advocate for veterans and military families.

Holding a lifelong commitment to education, Cook has taught history and political science at Copper Mountain College, California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB), and University of California, Riverside (UCR). He holds a master’s in political science from UCR and a master’s in public administration from CSUSB.

Cook has held leadership posts with his local United Way and Red Cross chapters and served as past Executive Director of the Yucca Valley Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and American Legion. He and his wife Jeanne reside in Yucca Valley.


Serving With

Doug LaMalfa

CALIFORNIA's 1st DISTRICT

Tom McClintock

CALIFORNIA's 4th DISTRICT

Jeff Denham

CALIFORNIA's 10th DISTRICT

David Valadao

CALIFORNIA's 21st DISTRICT

Devin Nunes

CALIFORNIA's 22nd DISTRICT

Kevin McCarthy

CALIFORNIA's 23rd DISTRICT

Buck McKeon

CALIFORNIA's 25th DISTRICT

Gary Miller

CALIFORNIA's 31st DISTRICT

Ed Royce

CALIFORNIA's 39th DISTRICT

Ken Calvert

CALIFORNIA's 42nd DISTRICT

John Campbell

CALIFORNIA's 45th DISTRICT

Dana Rohrabacher

CALIFORNIA's 48th DISTRICT

Darrell Issa

CALIFORNIA's 49th DISTRICT

Duncan Hunter

CALIFORNIA's 50th DISTRICT

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