Paul Cook

Paul Cook

CALIFORNIA's 8th DISTRICT

Cook Holds Hearing on the Crisis in Nicaragua and Markup of H.Res.981

2018/07/12

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA-08), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, held a Subcommittee hearing entitled, “Nicaraguan Crisis: Next Steps to Advancing Democracy.” The Subcommittee also held a markup and advanced H.Res.981, Condemning the violence, persecution, intimidation, and murders committed by the Government of Nicaragua against its citizens.

Chairman Cook’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery:

     “For too long, Daniel Ortega has ruled Nicaragua through fear and intimidation, undermined democracy, and enriched himself through systemic corruption. Today, hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans from all sectors of society have said no more. In response, over the last two months Ortega has fought to maintain his control, unleashing his security forces on unarmed citizens and violently suppressing the protests, in what has left close to 300 people dead, including one U.S. citizen. The crisis in Nicaragua is also threatening regional trade, business operations, and the safety of Americans living in Nicaragua. Attempts by the Catholic Church to mediate a peaceful resolution to the conflict have failed, Ortega continues to suppress the people, and Ortega announced over the weekend that he will not hold early elections, as many protestors have urged.

     Just this week, masked government supporters attacked Roman Catholic priests who were seeking to help protesters trapped inside a church. Yesterday, Felix Maradiaga, the Executive Director for a leading think tank in Nicaragua and important pro-democracy advocate, was attacked and physically beaten by Ortega’s thugs in León. I believe his wife is in the audience today, and I just want to say that the U.S. stands in support and solidarity with you and the Nicaraguan people who are seeking to reclaim their freedoms. While some have expressed surprise by the outbreak in violence in what was previously known as the most stable country in Central America, this crisis did not occur overnight. In my view, it is a result of more than a decade of Ortega’s authoritarian rule and built-up resentment from the Nicaraguan people who have seen the Ortega family enrich themselves at the expense of the country.

     Today, Nicaragua remains the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere after Haiti, and Transparency International ranks Nicaragua as one of the region’s most corrupt countries along with Venezuela and Haiti. In addition, Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, have undermined democratic institutions in Nicaragua, stacked the courts and electoral body with political allies, illegally changed the constitution, eliminated presidential term limits, stripped opposition parties of their legal registration, dismissed opposition lawmakers from the National Assembly, held fraudulent elections, and co-opted many of the country’s television and media outlets to restrict information from reaching citizens.

     In view of these actions and today’s crisis in Nicaragua, we are holding this Subcommittee hearing and markup of House Resolution 981 to examine recent developments and conduct oversight of the Administration’s policies related to Nicaragua. The Trump Administration has rightly responded with strong statements condemning the Ortega regime for committing violence and human rights abuses. The State Department has taken important action to protect U.S. embassy personnel and their families and issue visa restrictions on Nicaraguan government officials. The Treasury Department also recently announced sanctions against three top Ortega officials for human rights abuses and corruption. I strongly applaud all of these actions, but I want to note my concern over an Organization of American States (OAS) resolution jointly introduced by the U.S. and Nicaragua last month that seemed to downplay the crisis and the deaths and could have more strongly supported the democratic actors on the ground.

     The U.S. must do more. I urge the State Department and Treasury Department to issue additional visa restrictions and Magnitsky sanctions on Ortega regime officials to send a clear message that the U.S. will not allow government officials who exploit the Nicaraguan people or who commit human rights abuses to visit U.S. destinations or access the U.S. banking systems. The U.S. must also do more to support the democratic actors in Nicaragua. Additional U.S. funding to support the Nicaraguan people is strongly welcomed by this Subcommittee. However, it is essential that the U.S. respond to the crisis with a clear strategy and that we consider the needs of the actors on the ground and their capacity to manage money effectively to achieve results as we consider any additional funding.

     Finally, I strongly believe that the U.S. will be most effective if we work together to support the Nicaraguan people through not only the Organization of American States (OAS) and its member states but also with the European Union, Canada, and the Lima Group countries to coordinate a united response to the Nicaraguan crisis. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on how the Trump Administration is engaging with all these different actors to support the Nicaraguan people and with that, I turn to Ranking Member Sires for his opening remarks."

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Rep. Cook’s California Off-Road Recreation and Conservation Act Passes in House

2018/06/25

WASHINGTON- Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) today announced that his bill HR 857, the California Off-Road Recreation and Conservation Act passed unanimously in the House of Representatives this afternoon.

The bill will establish or expand six Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Recreation Areas in the California desert. In total, these six OHV areas cover roughly 300,000 acres. These are Johnson Valley, Spangler Hills, El Mirage, Rasor, Dumont Dunes, and Stoddard Valley. This bill creates additional protections for OHV users and ensures that these areas cannot be closed administratively. Creating the nation’s first system of Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation areas will ensure that OHV activity is conducted in appropriate locations, protecting other parts of the desert.

The California Desert Protection Act of 1994 left the Mojave Desert with hundreds of thousands of acres of Wilderness Study Areas. In the decades since then, these areas have been reviewed extensively for their suitability as wilderness. This bill will designate some of these areas as wilderness, primarily within these wilderness study areas and Death Valley National Park, while releasing other lands from wilderness study that were found to be unsuitable for a wilderness designation.

The bill also designates approximately 18,000 acres of existing federal land as the Alabama Hills National Scenic Area. This would restrict large-scale projects such as renewable energy generation, while preserving all existing recreational and commercial uses of the Alabama Hills. Activities such as filming, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, hunting, fishing, and authorized motorized vehicle use would be unaffected.

Lastly, HR 857 adds approximately 39,000 acres of land to the National Park System including significant acreage at both Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park.

The California Off-Road Recreation and Conservation Act has the support of San Bernardino and Inyo counties, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, local cities, virtually every major off-road vehicle group, environmental groups such as the California Wilderness Coalition and the Pew Charitable Trusts, local chambers of commerce, and the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation.

Rep. Cook said, “This bill is the product of years of outreach to local governments, tribes, off-highway vehicle users, conservation groups, Chambers of Commerce, miners, and other stakeholders. The bill protects recreational and OHV areas, makes crucial expansions to our national park lands, and represents a consensus on how to manage our public lands in the California desert. This is one of the most significant pieces of conservation and recreation legislation to pass the House of Representatives in decades and I thank my colleagues in the House for passing this important piece of legislation today.”

A member of the House Natural Resources, 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.

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Rep. Cook Votes to Take Action to Deal with Opioid Crisis

2018/06/14

WASHINGTON- Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) joined his colleagues in the House in voting for a number of bills aimed at fighting the growing opioid epidemic. According to the US Department of Health and Humans Services, in 2016 more than 42,000 people died from opioid overdose and an estimated 2.1 million people suffered from an opioid use disorder.

Today, Rep. Cook voted for HR 5788, the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act of 2018. This legislation protects Americans by stopping the flow of synthetic opioids in the international mail system. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl enter the United States through multiple avenues, including ports of entry, express delivery services, and international mail.  This legislation strengthens oversight on international shipments, enabling the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to better target high-risk shipments for inspection and seizure. HR 5788 passed the House overwhelmingly.

Rep. Cook also voted earlier this week for a number of additional measures targeting the opioid epidemic, including HR 5009, Jessie’s Law. After being sexually assaulted, a Michigan college student named Jessie looked to heroin to try to escape the trauma. Jessie battled addiction for nearly seven years, going in and out of rehab four times. Following her time at a Michigan treatment facility, Jessie was turning her life around and had been clean for six months.

Later she developed a running-related infection in her hip that required surgery. Her parents informed the hospital that she was a recovering addict and should not be prescribed opioids, but that message never made it to the discharging physician. Without knowing her addiction history, the doctor prescribed 50 oxycodone pills and she fatally overdosed the next day.

HR 5009 ensures medical professionals have access to a consenting patient’s complete health information when making treatment decisions by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to develop and annually disseminate best practices regarding the prominent display of substance use disorder history in records of patients who have previously provided this information to a health care provider. HR 5009 passed the House unanimously.

Rep. Cook said, “This week Congress passed more than 25 bills specifically targeting the opioid crisis. With more than 115 people dying every day as a result of opioid abuse and overdose, we need to take action now. There’s still work to be done, but we’re making progress on fighting this epidemic that’s causing so much death and suffering.”

For a complete look at legislation has Congress has passed targeting the opioid crisis, please visit: energycommerce.house.gov/opioids-legislation/

A member of the House Natural Resources, 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.

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Rep. Cook Desert Lands Bill Advances in Congress

2018/06/13

WASHINGTON– Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) announced today that his bill HR 2365, the Desert Community Lands Act, passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee this morning.

Cook’s bill would transfer various federal lands to four cities in the Eighth Congressional District: Twentynine Palms, Barstow, Victorville, and Apple Valley. These conveyances are intended to facilitate a variety of projects including building vital infrastructure projects, the expansion and establishment of local off-highway vehicle parks, and expanded commercial development.

In Twentynine Palms, the city would take over 80 acres which are adjacent to the 29 Palms Motorsports Arena, which is the site of a number of racing events that draw more than 5,000 attendees and racers each year. It would allow for expansion of the racetrack, drawing in additional events and boosting the city’s economy.

In Barstow, a 320 acre transfer would allow the city to complete an alternative route connecting Barstow’s neighborhoods to its primary commercial sector, reducing gridlock, and increasing traffic efficiency. The land is located adjacent to the I-15 freeway and its commercial development could bring in as much as $1,000,000 annually in sales tax revenue for the city.

In Victorville, this bill will allow the city to carry out a number of key objectives. One 80-acre parcel located near the city’s industrial wastewater treatment plant would allow for the construction of a drying bed for reclaimed water that has a high concentration of salts. Currently the city has to haul the liquid concentrate to a treatment site roughly 50 miles from the facility, a far less cost effective and environmentally efficient means of treatment. Another 40-acre parcel adjacent to National Trails Highway would allow the extension of Rancho Road, significantly improving emergency access. The remainder of the land is along the northern edge of the city and is part of a planned area to accommodate future population growth.

In Apple Valley, the town would receive about 4,360 acres which would allow it to take over management of a popular OHV riding area north of the town. These lands have been used heavily for recreation for more than 30 years, and users in the area can number several thousand on certain high-use weekends. It’s easily accessible from I-15 and is a popular location for camping, riding, and racing. Conveying this land to Apple Valley allows them to take over management of the area, reducing the strain on the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), preserves a popular riding area, and protects surrounding habitat by giving riders an appropriate area to ride.

Rep. Cook said, “This legislation is important to my district. It allows local communities to control their own destiny, rather than bureaucrats in Washington. For the most part, the lands conveyed in this bill are essentially vacant lots located in or adjacent to these cities. This bill ensures these lands are put to productive use by preserving and expanding recreational opportunities, allowing for the construction of critical infrastructure, and boosting the economies of these desert cities. I thank Chairman Bishop and the Natural Resources Committee for passing my legislation and look forward to the House of Representatives passing it soon.”

A member of the House Natural Resources, 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.

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Rep. Cook Announces Funding for Death Valley National Park Repairs

2018/06/06

WASHINGTON– Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) announced that the Trump Administration has approved funding to rebuild critical national park infrastructure. Included in that funding is $5.4 million to restore the flood-damaged historic Scotty's Castle Visitor Center at Death Valley National Park. This is part of a $256 million infrastructure repair package going to projects across the National Park System.

In 2015, Death Valley was hit by a significant rain storm, which resulted in flooding at Scotty's Castle, causing it to be closed to the public since.

Rep. Cook said, “We have an obligation to be responsible stewards of our public lands. Death Valley National Park brings over a million visitors a year to Inyo County, boosting the local economy. Today's announcement of over $5 million for repairs and renovations at the Scotty's Castle Visitor's Center is a strong first step toward meeting our parks' serious infrastructure needs.”

Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke said in a separate press statement, “Today’s announcement is another step toward eliminating the more than $11 billion in maintenance facing the National Park Service. It’s another step toward prioritizing infrastructure because it is an investment that bolsters local economies and gateway communities. And it is another step in prioritizing access for all Americans to our public lands.”

A member of the House Natural Resources, 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.

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President Signs Cook Supported “Right to Try” Legislation into Law

2018/05/30

WASHINGTON-   Today, President Trump signed S. 204, the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act. Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) voted for this legislation which passed the House with bipartisan support last week. It had previously passed in the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.

This bill amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to exempt the provision of certain unapproved, experimental drugs to a terminally ill patient who has exhausted approved treatment options and is unable to participate in a clinical trial involving the drugs.

The Right to Try Act ensures that terminally ill patients and their doctors are allowed to try experimental treatments when no alternatives exist. The manufacturer or sponsor of an eligible drug must report annually to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on any use of the drug in accordance with these provisions. The FDA will also be required to post an annual summary report of such use on its website.

Since 2014, 38 states have passed “right to try” laws to bypass FDA permission for access to experimental drugs.

Rep. Cook said, “I’m pleased President Trump has signed this into law. Too many terminally ill patients are denied access to experimental drugs that could help them. This will ensure patients who have life-threatening illnesses have a chance to access potentially life-saving drugs.” 

A member of the House Natural Resources, 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.

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Cook, Sires, McCaul, Castro Request GAO Review of Mérida Initiative

2018/05/29

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA-08), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Ranking Member Albio Sires (D-NJ-08), Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX-10), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20) sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office urging a review of the Mérida Initiative as it has been more than a decade since the Initiative begun, and evidence from Congressional oversight efforts has demonstrated a need for an independent impact assessment to ensure the Mérida Initiative is meeting U.S. objectives.

In the letter Cook, Sires, McCaul, and Castro say, “In 2017, Mexico recorded more than 29,000 homicides, making it the most violent year on record. This violence stems, in part, from transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) operating in Mexico and their use of armed groups. These TCOs have also engaged in theft of oil pipelines, money laundering, and trafficking people, arms, and drugs, which has contributed to our country’s opioid epidemic through heroin and fentanyl trafficked into Mexico from China. In 2008, the U.S. and Mexico launched the Mérida Initiative, a partnership between both countries to counter the threats from Mexican drug cartels. While we strongly support the Mérida partnership between the U.S. and Mexico, we believe that this Initiative requires continued vigilance to achieve maximum effectiveness.”

Full text of the letter is available below or here:

May 25, 2018

The Honorable Gene L. Dodaro
Comptroller General of the U.S.
U.S. Government Accountability Office
441 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20548

Dear. Mr. Dodaro:

            In 2017, Mexico recorded more than 29,000 homicides, making it the most violent year on record. This violence stems, in part, from transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) operating in Mexico and their use of armed groups. These TCOs have also engaged in theft of oil pipelines, money laundering, and trafficking people, arms, and drugs, which has contributed to our country’s opioid epidemic through heroin and fentanyl trafficked into Mexico from China. Given these developments, Congress has a key interest to ensure that all U.S. efforts dedicated to combatting violence and drug trafficking in Mexico are effective, and we would like to request that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a review of the Mérida Initiative.

In 2008, the U.S. and Mexico launched the Mérida Initiative, a partnership between both countries to counter the threats from Mexican drug cartels. Over the last decade, Congress has appropriated $2.9 billion in security assistance to Mexico to support this Initiative. U.S. assistance has provided Mexico’s state and federal security forces with technical support and equipment to support Mexico’s justice system, professionalize the courts, and reduce corruption. As a result, the U.S. and Mexico have strengthened cooperation, which has led to increased extraditions from Mexico and the establishment of new national training standards for police, investigators, prosecutors, and judges in Mexico and the implementation of an accusatorial justice system at the federal and state level. Mexico has also led efforts to seize more than $4 billion in illicit drugs and currency and apprehend more than 400,000 Central American migrants.

Yet, continued violence, government corruption and low conviction rates, human rights abuses, and increasing drug production and trafficking in and through Mexico remain challenges. While we strongly support the Mérida partnership between the U.S. and Mexico, we believe that this Initiative requires continued vigilance to achieve maximum effectiveness. Evidence from Congressional oversight efforts has also demonstrated a need for an independent impact assessment to ensure that the Mérida Initiative is meeting U.S. objectives. As it has been more than a decade since this Initiative began, we believe that a review of this program is timely. We ask that the GAO review of the Mérida Initiative include the following:

1.       Examine the extent to which the Mérida Initiative is meeting its stated objectives under each of its four pillars to disrupt the capacity of organized crime to operate, institutionalize capacity to sustain the rule of law, create a 21st century border structure, and to build strong and resilient communities and any changes that have been instituted to these objectives since the program’s creation in 2008;

2.       Assess the efficiency of the interagency process and information-sharing between the U.S. Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, and USAID related to the Mérida Initiative and U.S. interaction with relevant Mexican government ministries, in the design, implementation, and tracking of projects implemented with Mérida funding;

3.       Assess the process that each of the relevant U.S. government agencies uses to evaluate and measure the results and outcomes of projects implemented under the Mérida Initiative;

4.       Examine the wider effect that the Mérida Initiative has had on countering Mexican drug cartels, impacting the security situation in Mexico, including improving human rights and the country’s rule of law and justice systems, and resulting in changes to the flow of drugs from Mexico to the U.S.;

5.       Provide a breakdown of U.S. vs. Mexican contributions to the Mérida Initiative;

6.       Assess the impact of the Mérida Initiative and related efforts in combating illicit activities, including thefts of oil pipelines, money laundering, and trafficking people, arms, and drugs;

7.       Provide recommendations on ways to improve the Mérida Initiative’s implementation and effectiveness.

If you have any questions, please contact our staff, Rebecca Ulrich (Rep. Cook, 202-226-9980), Sadaf Khan (Rep. Sires, 202-225-7919), Brandon Batch (Rep. McCaul, 202-225-2401), or Sid Ravishankar (202-225-3236).

Sincerely,

Col. Paul Cook, Ret. (CA-08)
Chairman  
Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere
House Committee on Foreign Affairs    
     
Albio Sires (NJ-08)
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere
House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Michael McCaul (TX-10)
Chairman
House Committee on Homeland Security                                          

Joaquin Castro (TX-20)
Member of Congress

*NOTE: The Western Hemisphere Subcommittee held a hearing on transnational criminal organizations in the Western Hemisphere on May 23, 2018.

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Rep. Cook Votes for Annual National Security Bill

2018/05/24

WASHINGTON-   Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) voted for HR 5515, the annual national security authorization bill. The bill passed the House overwhelmingly with bipartisan support.

This year’s bill takes several vital steps to strengthen the readiness of our military and protect our national security. Included in the bill is a 2.6% pay increase for our troops, the largest in 9 years. It also makes significant reforms to the Pentagon bureaucracy and makes key investments in other critical military capabilities to confront aggression and address threats around the world, including threats from Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.

Also included in the bill is an amendment cosponsored by Rep. Cook that supports efforts to increase domestic production of our Nation’s strategic and critical minerals. As one of our nation’s largest consumers of metals and minerals, the US Department of Defense uses as much as 750,000 tons of minerals per year. These metals are key ingredients for military technology as well as other strategic readiness components such as medical devices, energy infrastructure, and roads.

Rep. Cook said, “As the world has grown more dangerous, our national security has continued to be put at risk. This bill finally gives our troops the support and resources they deserve. It provides our men and women in uniform with a much-deserved pay raise and provides critical funding to rebuild our military so that we can protect our national security both at home and abroad. It also includes an important amendment that will streamline the development of critical minerals here at home so we aren’t dependent on other nations to provide these minerals which are necessary for our national defense. I look forward to seeing it signed into law.”    

A member of the House Armed Services, Natural Resources, 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.

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Rep. Cook Announces Barstow Mayor’s Participation in White House Sanctuary State Roundtable

2018/05/16

WASHINGTON – Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) announced that Mayor Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre of Barstow is one of fifteen California local elected officials chosen to participate in a California Sanctuary State Roundtable with President Trump at the White House today.

Earlier this year, California passed SB 54, which severely limits state and local law enforcement from working with federal immigration authorities, effectively creating a “sanctuary state” that protects illegal immigrants from deportation. Following passage of the bill, the Trump administration sued California over the policy – a lawsuit many municipalities in Southern California have joined. In Cook’s District, Barstow, Yucaipa, Hesperia, and Highland have already taken votes voicing their opposition to the California law. Victorville and Adelanto are set to consider taking similar positions.

In an April 2018 editorial, Rep. Cook, a staunch opponent of the Sanctuary State law and of sanctuary city policies, called on local jurisdictions to weigh in with their opposition to the California policy. Cook is also cosponsor of HR 400, the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, which would forbid most federal funding to cities and localities that refuse to comply with federal immigration law.

Rep. Cook said, “I applaud the Trump administration for leading the charge to stop this dangerous unconstitutional state law that puts our communities at risk. SB54 not only makes it harder for federal officials to remove violent criminals from our communities, but also turns the state into a magnet for gangs. I hope that local leaders like Mayor Hackbarth-McIntyre will continue to come forward and push back against these sanctuary state policies.”

Mayor Hackbarth-McIntyre said, “I’m honored that Rep. Cook nominated me to be among the officials to participate in this important discussion impacting communities like Barstow. This law puts put our safety at risk, protects criminals, and impedes law enforcement from doing their job. I’m looking forward to a productive and honest conversation with the President this afternoon about what can be done to stop this.”   

A member of the House Natural Resources, 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.

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Rep. Cook Votes to Improve Veterans' Healthcare

2018/05/16

Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) voted today in support of S. 2372, the VA Mission Act. The bill provides major reforms to VA. It passed the House with bipartisan support.

The bill strengthens and improves the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system for the approximately nine million veteran patients who utilize the system. The bill consolidates multiple community care VA programs, including the Choice Program, into one system that is easier to navigate for veterans, VA employees, and community partners. It will help to ensure that veterans are getting the right care at the right time with the right provider.

It also provides additional funding to sustain the Choice Program, which could be exhausted by the end of May. The Choice Program is one of several programs through which a Veteran can receive care from a community provider if he or she cannot receive care in a timely manner from a nearby VA facility. 

Additionally, S. 2372 expands eligibility for the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, which promotes and enhances veteran wellbeing for those who require the care and assistance of another. Post-9/11 veterans have benefitted greatly from this program and this bill ensures future veterans maintain access to it.

 Rep. Cook said, “Too often veterans get lost in bureaucracy of the VA, without receiving the help they have earned. This bipartisan bill will improve and expand critical care for our nation’s veterans and ensure that there’s no lapse in funding for the Choice program. I hope this critical bill is swiftly signed into law.”

A member of the House Armed Services, Natural Resources, 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.

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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.


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CALIFORNIA's 1st DISTRICT

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Devin Nunes

CALIFORNIA's 22nd DISTRICT

Kevin McCarthy

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Steve Knight

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Ed Royce

CALIFORNIA's 39th DISTRICT

Ken Calvert

CALIFORNIA's 42nd DISTRICT

Mimi Walters

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Dana Rohrabacher

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Darrell Issa

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Duncan Hunter

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