Paul Cook

Paul Cook

CALIFORNIA's 8th DISTRICT

Rep. Cook Introduces Legislation to Prohibit Sale of Purple Heart Medals

2016/09/29

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) introduced HR 6234, the Private Corrado Piccoli Purple Heart Preservation Act.

The bill prohibits the sale of any Purple Heart medal presented by the government to a wounded servicemember or their family. Military collectors often acquire these Purple Hearts, sometimes through underhanded means, and resell them as collectable items. These medals sell for hundreds and even thousands of dollars on the collector market.

HR 6234 is named for Private Corrado Piccoli, a WWII infantryman killed in action in 1944. A Purple Heart medal accompanied the telegram informing Private Piccoli’s family of his death. Sadly, years later and after his parents’ passing, the medal was lost. Army Captain Zachariah Fike discovered the lost medal in 2011 and, after researching the name engraved on the medal, returned it to Private Piccoli’s surviving siblings. The experience inspired Captain Fike to found Purple Hearts Reunited, an organization that has, to date, returned over 300 Purple Hearts and rescued 700 more.

As Veterans or their survivors pass away, dozens of these Purple Hearts become lost every year and find their way into pawn shops, junk stores, and estate sales. Service organizations, like Purple Hearts Reunited, work tirelessly to rescue these medals and return them to families. The profiteering actions of military collectors make this task even more difficult as medals find their way onto the market and away from their rightful places of honor.

Rep. Cook, wounded twice in combat himself, said, “These military collectors cheapen the Purple Heart by buying and selling this symbol of sacrifice like a pack of baseball cards. I’m committed to defending our Veterans and that means preserving their symbols of honor like the Purple Heart. These medals belong with families or in museums, not on some collector’s auction block.”

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 Ban Future Ransom Payments to Iran

2016/09/23

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) voted for HR 5931, Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act. The bill passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan vote of 254-163.

The bill prohibits the United States government from making any cash payments to Iran until the President certifies Iran is not a state sponsor of terrorism. It states that the policy of the United States government is not to pay ransom or release dangerous prisoners for the purpose of securing the release of United States citizens taken hostage abroad. This bill also requires transparency on any future settlements with Iran to ensure they are not used to pay ransom.

In January, the President announced that the United States would pay Iran $1.7 billion to settle a dispute over an aborted arms sale that had dragged on since the radical clerics that rule Iran seized power in 1979. The White House initially rejected concerns that this settlement amounted to a ransom for the release of the American hostages and refused to answer questions from Congress.

In August, the Obama Administration admitted that it had secretly organized an airlift of $400 million in cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran. Initially, senior U.S. officials denied any link between the payment and the prisoner exchange, but later a State Department spokesman told reporters that the U.S. would not allow Iran to take possession of the money until the American prisoners had been released.

Rep. Cook said, “This bill bans our government from giving any cash payment to Iran for any purpose. Since the ransom was paid, Iran has taken additional American hostages and continues to fund terrorist groups. This bill would put a stop to this dangerous practice which puts a price tag on every American abroad.”

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 Stop Transfer of Guantanamo Detainees

2016/09/15

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) today voted for HR 5351 to prohibit the transfer of any individual detained at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a margin of 244-174.

The bill temporarily prohibits any funds from being used to transfer or release an individual detained at Guantanamo Bay to the United States or a foreign country until January 21, 2017 or enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017.

The Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp has served as a detention facility in the Global War on Terror since 2002. Currently, there are 61 terrorists incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay. During this Administration, 177 detainees have been transferred, repatriated, or resettled. Under current law, the Administration must inform Congress at least 30 days before a transfer can take place, confirming security conditions in a foreign country are adequate.

The President has repeatedly stated his desire to close the facility by transferring the remaining detainees to the United States or through additional transfer agreements with other countries. There have been several incidents involving former prisoners committing acts of terror against Americans. According to one recent report, nine people freed from Guantanamo have rejoined militant groups since President Barack Obama took office in 2009. 

Rep. Cook said, “Prisoners held in Guantanamo are the ‘worst of the worst’, the most hard core of terrorists. These include the mastermind of the 9/11 Attacks and his lieutenants who helped organize and facilitate the deadliest terrorist attack in our history. These terrorists only want one thing: to kill Americans and cause destruction. It’s time to put national security first and stop the transfers immediately.”

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 for Lower Healthcare Costs for Seniors and Middle Class

2016/09/13

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) today voted for H.R. 3590, the Halt Tax Increases on the Middle Class and Seniors Act. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 261-147.

H.R. 3590 will provide relief for Americans with expensive medical bills by repealing an Obamacare tax hike and restoring medical tax-deductions to previous levels. Specifically, the bill amends the federal tax code to lower permanently the medical expense threshold individuals may claim as an itemized deduction from 10 percent of their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) to 7.5 percent of their AGI.

Rep. Cook said, “Healthcare costs continue to rise, and those who need the care the most get hit the hardest. Our seniors simply can’t afford to pay more for their healthcare. This bill stops a tax increase on our seniors and provides relief to the middle-class, allowing them to deduct more of their out-of-pocket medical costs.”

In 2013, Obamacare increased the threshold for deducting medical expenses, meaning taxpayers could only deduct medical expenses which exceed 10 percent of their AGI instead of 7.5 percent. Taxpayers aged 65 and older have continued to use the 7.5 percentage floor through tax year 2016. While the majority of Americans have already been impacted, beginning in 2017, seniors will also face this tax increase.

The Joint Committee on Taxation has found that nearly 40 percent of those who would receive immediate relief make between $40,000 and $75,000. The American Association of Retired Persons, which supports the legislation, has noted that “56 percent of all returns claiming the deduction had at least one member of the household age 65 or older.”

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. Paul Cook Votes For Bipartisan Bill To Protect Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights

2016/09/06

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) today voted for HR 5578, the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act of 2016. The bill passed the House with widespread bipartisan support.

This legislation ensures sexual assault survivors in federal criminal cases have the right to a sexual assault evidence collection kit, written notification before destruction of the kit, the ability to request preservation of the kit beyond the statute of limitations, and that they are informed of results from a forensic examination. Further, this legislation allows the Attorney General to make grants through the Crime Victims Fund to states to promote rights and policies for sexual assault survivors.

In addition, H.R. 5578 also requires the Attorney General and the Department of Health and Human Services to convene a joint working group on best practices regarding the care and treatment of sexual assault survivors and the preservation of forensic evidence.

According to figures from a 2011 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most recent available, one in five women in America are victims of sexual assault.  More than 40% of these victims are children, reporting they were first raped before they were 18 years old.

Rep. Cook said, “Sexual assault survivors shouldn’t be faced with a patchwork of bureaucratic impediments to justice. These sexual assault collection kits have been instrumental in providing evidence to convict sexual predators and rapists, including many cold cases. We need to do everything we can to ensure that these criminals are brought to justice, and this legislation is a strong step towards achieving that goal.”

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 Co-sponsors Hunting, Education and Recreational Development (HEARD) Act

2016/07/26

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) today announced that he is co-sponsoring H.R. 5836, the Hunting, Education and Recreational Development (HEARD) Act.

The HEARD Act establishes an orderly process for the sale, conveyance and exchange of federal lands not being utilized by public land management agencies that have been identified for disposal. The HEARD Act will yield significant benefits for education, sportsmen, agriculture and natural resource users, counties and states by establishing a revenue sharing mechanism that ensures a fair return for all.

It distributes certain revenues derived through this Act by returning 15% to the state where the disposal takes place for K-12 and higher education; 15% to one or more land grant universities in the State where the disposal takes place; 10% to one or more counties and county extension offices where the disposal takes place; and 10% to a special account in the treasury in order to increase access for hunters, recreational fishing, recreational shooting, OHV use, and other purposes.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), the total federal acreage exceeds more than 635 million acres. Currently, more than 80% of the land in Cook’s Congressional District is federally owned land.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has identified hundreds of thousands of acres for disposal that the agency is not efficiently utilizing. However, existing law does not require the BLM to dispose of identified lands on a regular or frequent basis. As a result, the Bureau of Land Management rarely disposes lands identified as potentially available.

Rep. Cook said, “We currently have a massive amount of land under the control of the federal government, especially in my district. We have to do a better job at making sure we’re making the most efficient use of our land. Our public lands should be used to benefit our communities not bureaucrats in Washington.”

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 for Veterans' Compensation COLA Act of 2016

2016/07/11

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) today voted for H.R. 5588, the Veterans’ Compensation COLA Act of 2016. The bipartisan bill passed the House unanimously.

H.R. 5588 would increase, as of December 1, 2016, the rate of Wartime Disability Compensation, Compensation for Dependents, Clothing Allowance, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation to a Surviving Spouse, and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation to Children by the same percentage as any increase in benefits provided under title II (Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance) of the Social Security Act.

Veteran disability compensation programs provide relief from the impaired earning capacity of disabled veterans as the result of their military service. Each year, Congress considers legislation that sets the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) by reference to the Social Security increase.

Rep. Cook said, “Congress has a responsibility to ensure that we take care of our veterans and that their compensation is in line with increases in living expenses, especially when it concerns veterans who sustained injuries defending our freedom.”

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 for Mental Health Care Reform

2016/07/07

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) voted for H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. Cook is a cosponsor of this bipartisan bill, which passed with overwhelming support.

H.R. 2646 reforms the nation’s broken mental health system by refocusing programs and removing federal barriers to care. The legislation establishes an Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use to run the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMSHA) and helps coordinate mental health programs across the federal government.

It would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to clarify medical privacy rules to improve communication among providers, families, and patients to improve mental health treatment for those with serious mental illness.

Additionally, the bill codifies a recent Medicaid rule to foster access to care for short-term stays of adults in institutions for mental disease, and improves mental health care for children with serious emotional disturbance or adults with serious mental illness, including expansion of Assisted Outpatient Treatment.

More than 11 million Americans have severe schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression. Millions are going without treatment, and individuals and families struggle every day to find appropriate care.

A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) study highlighted that 112 federal programs intended to address mental illness are not connecting for effective service delivery and “interagency coordination for programs supporting individuals with serious mental illness is lacking.” Meanwhile, the federal government dedicates $130 million annually towards mental health. This legislation is fiscally responsible and fully offset, with a net deficit reduction of $5 million.

Rep. Cook said, “We’re not doing enough to address mental health. This bill is the first serious reform to our nation’s mental health programs in decades. It addresses many of the problems with the current system and does so in a fiscally responsible way that will result in better care.”

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 Apple Valley Desert Water Reuse Grant

2016/07/06

Washington, D.C. –Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) today announced that the Town of Apple Valley received a $300,000 grant from the US Bureau of Reclamation for the Apple Valley Desert Water Reuse Project. Cook wrote a letter in support of the town’s grant application earlier this year.

The Apple Valley Desert Water Reuse Project will convert the source of irrigation water at five locations from potable water to reclaimed water by constructing a pipeline to transport reclaimed water from the Apple Valley Water Reclamation Plant. The proposed project will also retrofit the existing irrigation system at each site to allow for the use of reclaimed water.

Utilizing reclaimed water for irrigation purposes will reduce the use of potable groundwater, thereby decreasing demand on the stressed Mojave River Groundwater Basin by providing an additional 961 acre-feet of water per year during periods of drought. The project is estimated to save the Town of Apple Valley one million gallons of potable water per day.

Rep. Cook said, “I’ve always been a proponent of innovative ideas to manage our most precious and scarce resource. Reducing the town’s reliance on imported potable water for irrigation ensures that the town is in a better position to withstand severe drought conditions.”

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 Reopen Clear Creek For Off-Road Vehicles and Recreation

2016/07/06

Washington, D.C. –Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) voted last night for H.R. 1838, the Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act. Cook is a cosponsor of this bipartisan bill which passed the House unanimously.

H.R. 1838 establishes the Clear Creek National Recreation Area in San Benito and Fresno Counties, California. Specifically, this legislation requires the reopening of the Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) for recreational use and re-designates it as a National Recreation Area.

In addition, the bill requires the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to develop a plan to minimize the risk from naturally occurring asbestos exposure, educate visitors about asbestos-associated health risks, reduce environmental impacts from off-highway vehicles (OHV) use, and develop a permanent management plan.

Rep. Cook said, “This bill will ensure that we safely reopen the Clear Creek area which is an important destination in California for off-road use and other recreation. It’s crucial that we keep our public lands available for public use and this bill ensures just that.”

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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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

Steve Knight

CALIFORNIA's 25th DISTRICT

Ed Royce

CALIFORNIA's 39th DISTRICT

Ken Calvert

CALIFORNIA's 42nd DISTRICT

Mimi Walters

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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