Paul Cook

Paul Cook


Rep. Cook Issues Statement on Rep. Steve King's Racist Remarks


WASHINGTON- Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) issued the following statement on Rep. Steve King's recent controversial and racist remarks:

"Unfortunately, Rep. Steve King's latest remarks regarding white supremacy are only the latest example in a pattern of racist statements and actions dating back years. Whether deriding racial minorities at home or cavorting with Nazis and white supremacists abroad, Mr. King brings dishonor to himself, the party of Abraham Lincoln, and his nation. Racists have no place in public life, and we should reconsider whether Mr. King has the moral authority to continue serving in Congress."

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Rep. Cook Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Enhance Conservation and Off-road Recreation in the California Desert


WASHINGTON- Earlier today, Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) joined with Reps. Juan Vargas
(D-Imperial Valley) and Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands) in introducing the California Desert Protection and Recreation Act.  This bill is an updated version of Cook’s California Off-road Recreation and Conservation Act that passed the House in the last Congress, but ultimately never received a final vote in the Senate. The bill has widespread support from local governments, recreational groups, and conservation groups, as well as significant bipartisan support. California Senators Feinstein and Harris introduced an identical companion bill in the Senate.

This bill would designate or expand six Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Recreation Areas in the California desert. 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 established or expanded OHV areas would total approximately 200,580 acres. Combined with the nearly 100,000 acres that make up the existing Johnson Valley OHV Recreation Area, this bill will ensure that over 300,000 acres are permanently open for OHV use in the California Desert.

This legislation would also designate 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.

It would also designate approximately 375,500 acres of wilderness in the California Desert, while releasing approximately 124,000 acres of existing wilderness study areas in the Cady Mountains and Soda Mountains. Additionally, it 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. For Joshua Tree, it would add approximately 4,500 acres of land on the northern border of Joshua Tree National Park to the park and would authorize the park to acquire the Joshua Tree Visitor Center near the main entrance.

It would establish the Vinagre Wash Special Management Area to protect 81,000 acres of public land in Imperial County, while preserving motorized recreation along designated routes. This bill would designate or expand approximately 77 miles of wild, scenic, and recreational rivers in the San Bernardino Mountains and near Death Valley. It prohibits the development of renewable energy generation facilities on approximately 28,000 acres of BLM land near “Juniper Flats” and conveys 934 acres of BLM land to the State of California to be included in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. It also directs the Secretary of the Interior to negotiate with the California State Lands Commission on land swaps involving state school lands within the California Desert Conservation Area and establishes a Desert Tortoise Conservation Center along the California-Nevada border.

Rep. Cook said, “This bipartisan bill is one of the most significant pieces of conservation and recreation legislation in decades. It represents the work of years of outreach to local governments, tribes, off-highway vehicle users, conservation groups, Chambers of Commerce, miners, and other stakeholders. The bill protects critical OHV recreation areas, makes crucial expansions to our national park lands and wilderness areas, and represents a consensus on how to manage our public lands in the California desert. Given the overwhelming bipartisan support, I’m optimistic we’ll be able to pass this legislation this term.”

Rep. Aguilar said, “I’m proud to support this legislation, which will help Southern California families access and enjoy our state’s desert wilderness areas while also expanding environmental protections for public lands throughout the region. I’m grateful for the work of my friend Congressman Cook in leading this bipartisan effort, and look forward to advancing this legislation in the 116th Congress.”

Rep. Vargas said, “The Imperial Valley desert is home to an incredibly diverse ecosystem and vast terrains that are of great importance to the people of our region and the entire state of California. This bill would give residents and visitors the opportunity to enjoy all the desert has to offer while ensuring that the invaluable natural resources of Imperial Valley are protected for future generations.”

Rep. Paul 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 Big Bear Land Exchange Bill Passes House


WASHINGTON- Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) announced today that his bill HR 5513, the Big Bear Land Exchange Act, passed unanimously in the House of Representatives this afternoon.  

HR 5513 authorizes an exchange of 73 acres of federal land in the San Bernardino National Forest for 71 acres owned by the San Bernardino County located within the forest. The County plans to use the 73 acres to build a timber processing facility in a safe and remote site further away from Big Bear City and closer to where the trees are actually processed. Currently, trees are driven down the mountain through a winding and dangerous pass to a processing facility far away, resulting in increased congestion and multiple traffic accidents.

The land exchange would also require the relocation of a small portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. Rep. Cook has worked closely with the Pacific Crest Trail Association to ensure that the relocation will occur before the land exchange and will include an environmental review.   

Rep. Cook said, “I’m thrilled that the House passed the Big Bear Land Exchange this afternoon. I’ve worked closely with our local governments to ensure this land exchange is done correctly and that all the stakeholders have their concerns resolved. This will alleviate traffic and make mountain roads in the area safer. I look forward to this bill becoming law.”

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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Wildfires a Wakeup Call on Ineffective Land Management Practices


The recent Woolsey and Camp fires in California were catastrophic on all fronts: loss of life, damage to property, and total annihilation of the environment. There can be no clearer wakeup call that our current land management policies are ineffective and require immediate remedy. Reducing the threat of wildfires requires tremendous dedication and sacrifice, but as your representatives in Congress and the State Legislature, we’re committed to ending this crisis for our rural districts and for all California.

To address this growing problem, we must first define a “natural” and “healthy” forest. Forests in California might appear picturesque as they currently exist, but they are in no way natural or healthy. As the US Forest Service will tell you, healthy forests average between 40-60 trees per acre; California forests typically contain hundreds of trees per acre. In fact, some portions of the San Bernardino National Forest have approximately 600 trees per acre. This is a ticking time bomb.

Second, we must recognize that forest fires naturally occur and predate human intervention. For more than a millennia, forests burned every few decades, oftentimes from lightning strikes, which cleared out much of the overgrowth and dead wood. In fact, the lodgepole pine found throughout California, and in our own backyard, is one of many plant species that must be exposed to fire in order to release its seeds. What changed with forest fires? Three forces: 1. Modern firefighting techniques to protect structures and stop the spread of large fires. 2. Special interest groups who seek to prevent active land management in forests. 3. Government forest management policies reflective of this interest group pressure. To complicate matters further, recent changes in rainfall patterns have only increased the danger posed by wildfires. These changes have left us with overgrown, unhealthy forests.

Since passage of the National Forest Management Act of 1976, we’ve seen a 79 percent reduction in forest “thinning” activities. State and federal administrations have compounded this problem through environmental policies that make removal of vegetation and diseased trees more difficult. The results won’t surprise you: From 1940 to 1985, 300,000-400,000 acres burned annually in National Forests. The most recent figures provided by the Forest Service indicate over a million acres burned in California this year alone.

Better forest management policies, which help forests return to a more natural state, will result in smaller, less intense wildfires. This is why we support efforts like HR 2936, the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017, which would make it easier to manage overgrown forests on federal land.

Much can also be done at the state level to make our forests healthier. California currently spends billions of taxpayer dollars each year in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Legislative Analyst’s Office lists forest management as among the most efficient uses of this funding, yet California spends little to keep our forests healthy. Instead, it’s allocated to less efficient programs, like the High Speed Rail Authority, which just received a scathing report from the State Auditor concluding the program is poorly managed and won’t achieve its goals.

Carbon emissions from wildfires are the equivalent to an additional 19 million vehicles on our state’s roadways. It begs the question: Why aren’t we using this funding to address the threat of wildfires? Instead of pouring more tax dollars into the Bay-to-LA high-speed rail boondoggle, funds should be used for fire suppression and prevention. Our state government cannot continue to ignore the fact that wildfires constitute approximately one-eighth of California’s carbon emissions.

Implementing real solutions will require politicians to break from rigid orthodoxies. We need to work together to prevent greater loss of life and more environmental destruction. In the wake of the deadliest wildfires in California history, we have a moral responsibility to enact forest management reforms that will mark the end of this devastating period instead of continuing policies that have failed us repeatedly.

Congressman Paul Cook represents the 8th Congressional District. Assemblyman Jay Obernolte represents the 33rd Assembly District.

This Op-Ed was published in the San Bernardino Sun and Riverside Press Enterprise on December 5, 2018.


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Rep. Cook Announces Funding to Modernize Big Bear Water Infrastructure


WASHINGTON- Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved a loan of $12,000,000 and a grant of $3,000,000 to the City of Big Bear Lake to replace important water infrastructure.

The USDA made the announcement of the investment yesterday as part of awards in 46 states totaling $1.2 billion to help rebuild and improve rural water infrastructure for 936,000 rural Americans living in 46 states.

This Rural Development investment will be used to replace about 13 miles of undersized water supply pipeline. Some of the existing steel pipelines are nearly 70 years old and leak frequently, resulting in wasted water and increased energy consumption costs. The city of Big Bear Lake's Department of Water and Power provides water to more than 15,000 customers in the city and in unincorporated areas in surrounding San Bernardino.

Rep. Cook has previously authored letters in support of federal grants supporting Big Bear’s replacement of older inefficient pipelines.

Rep. Cook said, “I’m pleased to learn about the USDA’s commitment to help rebuild our water infrastructure in our rural communities, particular in Big Bear Lake. It’s imperative that Big Bear Lake replaces these pipelines to improve delivery, minimize water waste, and reduce energy consumption.”

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 Joins Labor Department in Recognizing Employers Who Hire Vets


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) attended the U.S. Department of Labor announcement of the 2018 HIRE (Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing) Vets Medallion Program Demonstration Award, recognizing the meaningful and verifiable efforts undertaken by job creators to hire and retain veterans. Honorees include small businesses, community-based nonprofits, and national companies.

In 2017, President Trump signed into law Rep. Cook’s bill, H.R. 244, the HIRE American Military Veterans Act, creating the HIRE Vets Medallion Program. The HIRE Vets Act promotes private sector recruiting, hiring, and retaining of men and women who served honorably in the U.S. military through the voluntary participation of employers. The awards program recognizes employers who have truly demonstrated efforts to reach out and support our veterans searching for employment.

Rep. Cook said, “It’s an honor to see this legislation come to fruition. Today’s recipients deserve to be recognized for making significant strides toward hiring more 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 look forward to seeing full implementation of the program next year.”

Recipients of the 2018 HIRE Vets Medallion Program Demonstration Award were evaluated based on a range of criteria, including:

• Veteran hiring and retention
• Availability of veteran-specific resources
• Leadership programming for veterans
• Dedicated human resources
• Compensation and tuition assistance programs for veterans

Applications for the 2019 HIRE Vets Medallion Program will open to employers on January 31, 2019. For more about the HIRE Vets Medallion Program and Award, please visit

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Congressman Cook Applauds Capture of Mail Bombing Suspect, Condemns Political Violence


WASHINGTON – This past week, at least 12 pipe-bombs have been sent to the homes of prominent political and media figures. Law enforcement apprehended a man in connection to this act of terrorism earlier this morning.

Congressman Cook released the following statement after the arrest:

“This is a very precarious time in our nation’s history. In the past several years, we’ve seen an alarming increase in politically-motivated acts of violence. Whether physical intimidation of elected officials, a shooter opening fire on members of Congress on a baseball field, or, in this case, an attempted mail bombing campaign, these acts are despicable and must be condemned in the strongest terms.

“I’m grateful none of the mail bomb devices detonated and that no one was injured. I commend the swift work of local, state, and national law enforcement in apprehending the suspect quickly.

“Let me be crystal clear: all politicians must condemn all acts of political violence. Only America’s enemies benefit from our acts of self-destruction. Furthermore, all politicians must turn away from speech and imagery meant to incite violence, hatred, and unnecessary division. We have a duty to heal the wounds of our society.

“Our American allegiance, not our politics, must come first. We must return to the values and ideas of community and cooperation that made us the greatest nation on earth.”

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Rep. Cook Co-Sponsors Bill to Fund Border Wall


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) signed on as a co-sponsor for HR 7059, the Build the Wall, Enforce the Law Act of 2018.

The bill, which was introduced by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), contains several provisions to combat illegal immigration and includes $23.4 billion in new funding to provide border security and fully fund a border wall between the US and Mexico.

In addition to providing border wall funding, the bill also includes a provision which would rein in municipalities that fail to comply with federal immigration laws and provide sanctuary for dangerous criminals who are here illegally. Under this bill, those jurisdictions would lose eligibility for certain federal grants.

HR 7059 also includes Kate’s Law, legislation that would raise the maximum sentences for criminal aliens who illegally reenter the United States to between 10 years and 25 years in federal prison, depending on the alien’s criminal history. In addition, this bill ensures that alien gang members are kept off our streets by barring them from coming to the United States and detaining and removing them if they are criminal gang members or participate in gang activity. The bill makes it clear that criminal alien gang members are not eligible for immigration benefits, such as asylum, special immigrant juvenile status, and temporary protected status.

Rep. Cook said, “This legislation provides comprehensive border security by fully funding a border wall and ensuring that we’re not only stopping dangerous criminals from coming here illegally, but we’re also bringing to justice the ones who are already here. As the founder of the Stop Sanctuary Laws Caucus, I’m especially happy to see that this bill sends a clear message to local jurisdictions that they can’t thumb their nose at federal immigration laws. I thank Leader McCarthy for introducing this legislation and am pleased to be a co-sponsor.”

The full text of the bill can be found here.

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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Cook, Sires Call for Release of Political Prisoners in Nicaragua and Venezuela


Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Paul Cook (CA-08), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, and Rep. Albio Sires (NJ-08), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, issued the following statement on recent events involving political prisoners in Nicaragua and Venezuela:

Chairman Cook and Ranking Member Sires: “We are deeply troubled by continued oppression by the Nicaraguan and Venezuelan regimes against peaceful demonstrators. Arbitrary detention, disappearances, and torture tactics routinely used by the Castro regime in Cuba are also happening at alarming rates in Nicaragua and Venezuela. This past weekend, Nicaraguan National Police beat and arrested at least 26 demonstrators who were peacefully calling for the Ortega-Murillo regime to step down. In Venezuela, the Maduro regime is holding at least 250 political prisoners, including opposition deputy Juan Requesens, and opposition activist Fernando Albán was murdered by Maduro’s henchmen in the SEBIN. We vehemently condemn these actions and call for Nicaraguan and Venezuelan regimes to cease all arbitrary arrests, acts of violence, and torture against dissenting voices, immediately release all political prisoners, and restore democracy through free and fair elections.”

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Rep. Cook Announces Silver Valley Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Grant


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) announced that the Silver Valley Unified School District (SVUSD) is set to receive a $1.25 million grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). Cook had previously written a letter advocating for the grant. The Silver Valley Unified School District serves approximately 2,200 children in the High Desert.

DoDEA operates schools for military-connected children on military bases in the US and overseas. DoDEA’s annual grant program helps provide resources to military-connected local educational agencies (LEAs). Specifically, this grant will enhance and integrate technology in core curricular areas, improve educators’ professional development, support the social and emotional needs of military students, and encourage students to participate in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs.

Rep. Cook said, “I was pleased to learn that the DoDEA awarded the Silver Valley Unified School District this substantial grant. Many military children face challenges due to family deployments and transitions, and this grant will provide Silver Valley with the means to assist its students with these difficulties. It’s our duty to ensure that our servicemembers’ children receive the highest quality educational opportunities possible, and this grant will help to accomplish that goal.”

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

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


Tom McClintock


Devin Nunes


Kevin McCarthy


Ken Calvert


Duncan Hunter


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