Paul Cook

Paul Cook

CALIFORNIA's 8th DISTRICT

Reps. Cook and Thompson Introduce Legislation to Encourage Earthquake Ready Homes

2017/03/22

Washington, D.C. – This week, Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) introduced the Earthquake Mitigation Incentive and Tax Parity Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation to exclude earthquake mitigation incentives from being taxed at the federal level. California has already made these incentives tax-free at the state level.

The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services established the California Residential Mitigation Program to help residents protect their homes from earthquake damage. Their Earthquake Brace + Bolt program provides homeowners up to $3,000 toward a retrofit, which costs between $3,000 and $5,000 on average. A residential seismic retrofit strengthens an existing house, making it more resistant to earthquakes by bolting the house to its foundation and adding bracing around the perimeter of the crawl space. In order to maximize the value of the incentive, this legislation would make the incentive tax-free at the federal level.

Rep. Cook said, “This legislation would bring federal tax law into sync with California law to encourage residents in earthquake-prone regions to take preventative measures to safeguard their homes. Current federal law penalizes Californians with taxes, which leaves families and structures less safe. We need to eliminate these tax penalties and this bill is a step in the right direction.”

Rep. Thompson said, “The South-Napa earthquake damaged more than 1,500 homes in 2014, making it clear we need to do everything we can to help residents prepare for disasters. These tax incentives will encourage homeowners to make the necessary retrofits to protect their homes—reducing damage from earthquakes, saving lives, and saving the government money in the long run. California has already seen the value of these retrofits, which is why they are exempt from state taxes. It is time for the federal government to follow suit.”

Glenn Pomeroy, CEO of the California Earthquake Authority, said, “Californians who take the steps to retrofit their older house by registering and qualifying for an Earthquake Brace + Bolt grant, and then doing the work to strengthen their house before the next damaging earthquake, should not be penalized by being taxed on their incentive grant”

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 Issues Statement on Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on Russia’s Efforts to Undermine Democratic States

2017/03/09

Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on Russian disinformation efforts and their attempts at undermining democratic institutions across Europe. The Committee heard from an expert panel of witnesses including the former President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

Rep. Cook said, “For a long time, Vladimir Putin’s goal has been to test the strength and cohesion of NATO. He believes that a western-led democratic order is a huge problem that must be discredited and stopped. Due to the weak state of the Russian economy, they’ve been forced to find different ways to exert their influence on other states around the world. The Russian government led by Vladimir Putin is no friend of the United States, and we need to swiftly and aggressively address this threat of disinformation. I was pleased to see such a strong bipartisan agreement on this issue, and thank Chairman Royce for hosting such an informative and timely hearing.”

The witnesses outlined both the strategic and tactical issues involved with countering Russia’s disinformation campaigns against our NATO allies. The Russians have perfected the use of unofficial state entities such as Wikileaks and their state-sponsored news agencies Sputnik and RT to spread their propaganda. These new methods are increasingly difficult to counter and require new thinking from NATO leaders. Most members of the Committee, including Rep. Cook, agreed that the U.S. should use all tools at its disposal to prioritize and counter this threat from Russia.

The Committee discussed several specific examples of Russian disinformation efforts and covert action. President Ilves of Estonia described the “Bronze Soldier” incident where the Estonian government was attempting to relocate a Soviet-era statue in their capital of Tallin. Russian propaganda outlets such as RT and Sputnik exaggerated this reasonable action by claiming the Estonian government was desecrating the graves of Soviet soldiers. This claim sparked protests by thousands of ethnic Russians living in Estonia. These protests were paired with coordinated and aggressive cyberattacks, crashing the websites of the country’s most important government, media, and banking institutions.

Fake or grossly exaggerated news stories have become a hallmark of Russian disinformation efforts. RT and Sputnik can reach hundreds of millions of people between their television broadcasts and online news stories. They have promoted fake stories about the content of Wikileaks dumps, grossly exaggerated the size and scope of NATO training exercises, and clearly lied about sexual violence against civilians by NATO soldiers. These fake news stories are viewed and shared on social media millions of times, serving to reinforce a sentiment of disdain and distrust of NATO and other European institutions.

The Russians have also targeted the U.S. All 17 U.S. intelligence entities reached the unanimous conclusion that Russia is responsible for the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and American campaign officials’ personal email accounts in 2016. They also made multiple attempts at accessing the RNC and other Republican campaigns. These cyberattacks revealed just how vulnerable our systems are, and how much more we need to do to protect our critical infrastructure from future attacks.

Just as the Russians sought to influence the U.S., they are currently working to subvert upcoming elections in Europe. In France, Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron and his campaign have been the target of thousands of cyberattacks and fake news stories alleging extramarital affairs and financial corruption. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel, a fierce defender of NATO and the EU, has been the recipient of thousands of fake news stories about her personal life. The Bundestag, the German Parliament, was hacked in 2015, resulting in a Wikileaks dump of over 2,000 documents. These same propaganda outlets have promoted false stories questioning the results of referendums across Europe, including the Brexit and Scottish Independence referendums.

Rep. Cook continued, “These Russian efforts include using blackmail and propaganda campaigns to influence free elections, conducting cyberattacks against both governments and private individuals, and using targeted military support to fracture Western alliances. Over the past several years, they have annexed the Crimean Peninsula violating international law, bombed civilians in Syria, supported Iran and its proxy forces across the Middle East, and have spent millions of dollars on a massive coordinated disinformation campaign against Western democracies. We need to coordinate our response with our NATO partners to strengthen our alliance and restore faith in our most important institutions and democratic processes.”

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. Paul Cook Reintroduces the American Soda Ash Competitiveness Act to Secure American Mining Jobs

2017/03/08

WASHINGTON – Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) reintroduced HR 1399, the American Soda Ash Competitiveness Act. Soda ash, or Sodium Carbonate, is used to manufacture glass and produce chemicals, detergents, paper, and other products. This bill would set the royalties collected on soda ash at a two percent rate for five years. The bill had been introduced in the previous session of Congress, but was not voted on by the full House of Representatives.

In 2006, Congress passed the Soda Ash Royalty Reduction Act (SAARA), which temporarily reduced the royalties collected on soda ash by the federal government from six percent to two percent. This was done in response to Chinese manufacturing of artificial soda ash. China’s heavily subsidized manufacturing program has made it the largest producer of soda ash in the world. The royalty reduction was meant to keep U.S. producers competitive and to ensure that the domestic soda ash production capability is maintained. SAARA expired in 2011, returning the royalty rate to six percent. This was later reduced to four percent in 2013 and in October 2015 the rate returned to six percent 

The American Soda Ash Competitiveness Act would return the royalty to a two percent rate for five years, giving the industry time to continue growing, and protecting hundreds of good-paying jobs. This will allow U.S. soda ash producers to expand in foreign markets, securing good-paying American mining jobs.

Aside from the economic benefit, promoting American soda ash is good for the environment. While American soda ash is found naturally, Chinese soda ash is produced synthetically. Chinese synthetic production uses twice the energy, which results in over three times the carbon emissions as natural soda ash production.

Cook said, “This is an important bill that will protect a vital industry, grow jobs, and do this with little impact to the federal budget. Sodium carbonate production is a $1.8 billion industry within the U.S., providing over 3,000 direct jobs. Soda ash is mined in my district and is exported through California ports. This bill will protect and expand mining jobs in my district, while strengthening our national security.”

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) introduced a companion bill in the Senate yesterday.

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 to Take Part in Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing on Russian Disinformation

2017/03/07

WASHINGTON- Rep. Paul Cook (R- Apple Valley) announced today that he will participate in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing this Thursday on “Undermining Democratic Institutions and Splintering NATO: Russian Disinformation Aims.” Rep. Cook serves as the Vice Chair on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Rep. Cook said, “President Putin is one of the most dangerous leaders in the world. I’m very concerned about potential Russian meddling not only in our country, but around the world. President Putin has been seeking ways to undermine our NATO alliance and foster distrust of civic institutions. I hope this hearing can help to shed light on these hostile covert actions by the Russians and help us form a strategy for countering their interference in the future.”

In announcing the hearing, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce noted, “For too long, the U.S. response to Russian aggression has been weak and ineffective – and that has to change. This hearing will allow us to examine ways to better counter Russia’s weaponization of information and other hostile acts.”

The committee hearing will take place on Thursday, March 9 at 10 AM EST and can be viewed live on the House Foreign Affairs Committee website at: https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/hearing-undermining-democratic-institutions-splintering-nato-russian-disinformation-aims/

A member of the House Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Natural Resources 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 Introduces Bill to Ban Drone Use That Impedes Firefighting Efforts on Federal Lands

2017/02/16

WASHINGTON- Today, Rep. Paul Cook (R- Apple Valley) introduced the Wildfire Airspace Protection Act of 2017. This bill will institute a criminal penalty on anyone who launches a drone that interferes with fighting wildfires on federal property.

Over the past couple years, aerial fire-fighting operations have been suspended over multiple wildfires due to privately-operated drones entering the airspace over the fire. Firefighting aircraft were grounded because of the threat posed to low-flying planes by the drones.  This prevented firefighters from keeping control of wildfires and, in at least one case, it led to thousands of additional acres being burned. Even more importantly, the suspension of air operations threatened the lives of firefighters.

The Wildfire Airspace Protection Act of 2017 would make it a felony to recklessly operate a drone that interferes with fighting wildfires on federal property. Violators would face a fine and imprisonment for up to five years.

Cook said, “Catastrophic wildfires are one of the biggest threats to life and property in the western United States. It’s shocking that despite aerial firefighting being repeatedly brought to a halt due to these reckless drone operators, there still is no law on the books against this behavior. These drone operators not only put the lives of aerial firefighters in jeopardy, but the loss of air support for fire crews allows wildfires to spread, threatening people and houses on the ground. Interfering with our firefighters is a serious problem, and this legislation will ensure that those who endanger our firefighters will face a serious penalty.”

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's Veteran Employment Bill Passes House of Representatives

2017/02/13

WASHINGTON- Today, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass HR 244, the HIRE Vets Act of 2017. Rep. Paul Cook (R- Apple Valley) reintroduced this bipartisan bill earlier this year. It was introduced last Congress and passed the House with unanimous support, but was unable to pass the Senate before the end of the year.

This important legislation would promote private sector recruiting, hiring, and retaining of men and women who served honorably in the U.S. military through a voluntary and effective program. Specifically, it would create an awards program recognizing the meaningful and verifiable efforts undertaken by employers – both large and small – to hire and retain veterans. The program is designed to be self-funded.

Through the U.S. Department of Labor, the HIRE Vets Act would allow businesses to display “HIRE Vets Medallions” on products and marketing materials. These medallions would be awarded as part of a two-tiered system –Gold and Platinum – associated with specific hiring and retention goals each year.

The program also establishes similar tiered awards for small and mid-sized businesses with less than 500 employees. To ensure proper oversight, the Secretary of Labor would be required to provide Congress with annual reports on the success of the program with regard to veteran employment and retention results. 

Rep. Cook said, “The HIRE Vets Act is an opportunity for Americans to see which companies truly live up to the employment promises they make to veterans. Veterans who serve this country honorably shouldn’t struggle to find employment, and this bill creates an innovative system to encourage and recognize employers who make veterans a priority in their hiring practices. I’m grateful this bill passed the House with such overwhelming support and look forward to it passing the Senate and being signed into law 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 Reintroduces Bipartisan Legislation to Combat Chinese Counterfeiting

2017/02/07

WASHINGTON - Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) reintroduced HR 917, the Secure E-waste Export and Recycling Act (SEERA). This national security bill stops the flow of e-waste to China and other countries that regularly counterfeit electronics. The bill will ensure that such waste does not become the source of counterfeit goods that may reenter military and civilian electronics in the United States.

SEERA addresses an issue first identified in a Senate Armed Services Committee study that found 1,800 cases of counterfeit parts in military technology. The Senate study concluded that “there is no way to predict how well they [counterfeit chips] will perform, how long they will last, and the full impact of failure.” Defense experts have also raised concerns that malware can be placed on counterfeits to help hackers and cyber-terrorists launch attacks.

SEERA would stop the flow of e-waste from the United States that is undermining our national security by requiring domestic recycling of all untested, nonworking electronics. By keeping these materials in the United States, we will keep them out the hands of counterfeiters and data thieves. Under SEERA, export of tested working equipment will continue and is expected to grow, creating tens of thousands of good-paying jobs for Americans. Customs and Border Protection would be authorized to inspect shipments of electronic products intended for export and would stop the shipment and hold the shipper accountable.

Cook said, “China regularly counterfeits electronics and puts these dangerous products, including critical military equipment, back into the market. These electronic components threaten the reliability and safety of a wide range of technology. SEERA will ensure we’re not exporting electronic scrap materials that come back to us as counterfeit parts and undermine the reliability of technology essential to our national security.”

Green said, “Electronic waste is the fastest growing segment of our domestic waste stream. This problem will continue to grow unless Congress acts to ensure that e-waste is recycled responsibly in the United States and out of the hands of overseas counterfeiters. The Secure E-waste Export and Recycling Act (SEERA) will help ensure our servicemen and women have reliable systems to protect us while creating thousands of jobs in Texas and around the country. I have worked on e-waste for a decade and look forward to Congress holding hearings on this bipartisan legislation and seeing it come before the House for a vote.”

Cook is Vice-Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is also a member of the House Natural Resources and Armed Services Committees. He 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 Issues Statement on President Trump’s Intention to Nominate Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court

2017/02/01

WASHINGTON – Rep. Paul Cook (R- Apple Valley) issued the following statement on President Trump’s intention to nominate Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court:

“Judge Gorsuch is an outstanding choice for the Supreme Court. I’m extremely impressed with his background and am confident he will be a superb independent voice on the court. I’m confident Judge Gorsuch will not legislate from the bench, and will help restore the parameters for the courts as envisioned by our country’s founders. When he was appointed in 2006 to serve on 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, he received unanimous Senate support. Judge Gorsuch is a worthy replacement for Judge Antonin Scalia, and he should do well to help restore faith in the highest court of the land.”  

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Rep. Paul Cook Issues Statement on Temporary Immigration Ban

2017/01/30

WASHINGTON – Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) issued the following statement on the temporary immigration ban.

"The President took action over the weekend in an effort to keep Americans safe by issuing a temporary ban on immigration and travel for individuals from seven countries. Previously, these seven countries were identified as "countries of concern" under the Obama administration. A December 2015 law, signed by former President Barack Obama and passed with bipartisan support in Congress, ended visa-free travel from those same seven countries due to the threat of terrorism. President Trump’s actions are built on this foundation.

Specific intelligence gathered prior to President Trump taking office demonstrates that ISIS is attempting to infiltrate the United States through our immigration and refugee channels in order to carry out attacks on our soil. We’ve seen attacks in Europe by terrorists posing as refugees, and the President was not willing to make the same mistakes here. Many of the countries included in the temporary ban have failed governments or are suffering from immense internal conflict. Amid failing governments and civil wars, there is often no way to verify the true identity of an applicant seeking to immigrate to the United States. Other countries included in the temporary ban, such as Iran and Sudan, are governed by regimes that sponsor terrorism directly.

That being said, I urge the President to take another look at the implementation of this temporary ban to ensure that individuals who have already been vetted and have valid green cards or visas are protected. I’m encouraged by Secretary Kelly’s announcement last night that holders of green cards would not be denied entry into the United States and hope that he and the President will take a look at other aspects of the order to ensure that it minimizes disruption. The bottom line is that this is a temporary measure while the administration implements new security and vetting procedures to keep the American people safe."

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Rep. Paul Cook Reintroduces Bill to Ban Sale of Purple Heart Medals

2017/01/23

WASHINGTON – Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) reintroduced HR 544, the Private Corrado Piccoli Purple Heart Preservation Act.

The bill extends protections of original Purple Heart medals that the government presented to a wounded service member or the service member’s family.  Currently, second hand dealers sell lost or discarded Purple Hearts for hundreds or even thousands of dollars of profit with little reverence for the personal sacrifice paid by a member of the armed forces.

HR 544 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. An Army Major 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 the foundation of 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, secondhand stores, and estate sales. Service organizations like Purple Hearts Reunited work tirelessly to rescue these medals and return them to families.  While military collectors often acquire these medals for historical preservation, dealers mark up prices in an effort to take advantage of this good will.  This bill does not seek to punish collectors.  Instead, its purpose is to prevent profiteering from the sale of a medal that was already paid for by an American’s ultimate sacrifice. 

Members of Congress, along with a coalition of 32 Veterans organizations, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and Purple Hearts Reunited support this legislation.  This bill protects protect the sanctity of the award through legislation that prevents the future sale of original Purple Hearts similar to protections already in place for the Medal of Honor.  The bill does not stop recipients and families from gifting or donating their medals, but it does protect the integrity of the medal and the legacy of the veteran that earned it.

Congressman Cook, wounded twice in combat himself, said, “These profit-seeking dealers 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 an auction block.”

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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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