Paul Cook

Paul Cook

CALIFORNIA's 8th DISTRICT

Rep. Cook Reintroduces the Private Corrado Piccoli Purple Heart Preservation Act

2019/05/24

WASHINGTON – This week, Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) reintroduced HR 2911, 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 the servicemember’s 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 2911 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 returned over 600 Purple Hearts and rescued more than 1000 since its establishment.

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. 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, “Memorial Day is a time to recognize those who made the ultimate sacrifice defending our nation and our freedom. The Purple Heart is a symbol of sacrifice and heroism awarded to those who were killed or wounded in combat. It’s not a collector’s item. Profiteering from re-sale of the Purple Heart medal has to stop. The fact that this market exists cheapens the sacrifice of the service members who earned them. The best way to preserve the honor of our veterans is to ensure that the medals end up with whom they belong: the families of those who earned them.”

A member of the House Natural Resources and Armed Services, 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 Retirement Accounts

2019/05/23

WASHINGTON – Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) voted today for HR 1994, the SECURE (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) Act of 2019. The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

The SECURE Act helps workers and small businesses begin their plans earlier and save more for retirement. It eases administrative burdens for businesses who offer retirement plans for their employees and adjusts the requirements for Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA’s).

Specifically, this legislation gives employers more flexibility to tailor retirement plans for their employees. It also allows Americans to save for a longer period by removing the age limit for contributing to IRAs and increasing the minimum age for required withdrawals from 70.5 to 72. Additionally, it allows families to make penalty-free withdrawals from their retirement accounts for the birth or adoption of a child and lowers taxes on military survivor benefits received by children, as well as certain other payments received by children.

Rep. Cook said, “This bipartisan bill is a win for employees and employers. It makes it easier for employers to set up retirement accounts and empowers employees to save more money. It also lowers taxes on benefits for our Gold Star families. I strongly support this legislation and am hopeful it will become law soon.”

A member of the House Natural Resources and Armed Services 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 Participates in Hearing on Wildfire Prevention and Cosponsors Resilient Fires Act of 2019

2019/05/09

WASHINGTON – This morning, the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands held a hearing on “Wildfire Resilient Communities.” Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley), a member of the Subcommittee, attended the hearing.

The 2018 wildfire season was the most destructive wildfire season on record in California. The deadliest wildfire, Camp Wildfire, which occurred in the Butte County Town of Paradise, killed at least 85 people and burned more than 14,000 structures. In total, California wildfires in 2018 caused at least $3.5 billion in damages.

Earlier this week, Rep. Cook cosponsored the Resilient Federal Forest Act of 2019. The legislation addresses the growing economic and environmental threats of catastrophic wildfires. It combines critical forest management reforms and necessary regulatory streamlining to improve the health and resiliency of our nation’s forests. It also provides federal land management agencies with tools to increase the pace, scale, and cost efficiency of forest management projects without sacrificing environmental protections.

Today’s hearing featured several witnesses including El Dorado County Supervisor Brian Veerkamp, who retired after 31 years in the Fire and Emergency Services field. In Veerkamps’s testimony, he said, “The best way to create fire resilient communities is to put the money and efforts on preventative management work. This practice may take hard work, but will be much less devastating to the environment than a massive wildfire would be. The simple fixes that used to be done, must be re-implemented. We need to do the necessary work up front, thus providing safe, resilient communities and forests.”

After the hearing, Rep. Cook said, “After last year’s horrific wildfires in California, it’s clear we need to do more to combat the threat of future wildfires and minimize the damage done to the environment. My vastly rural district is particularly susceptible to wildfires, which is why I cosponsored the Resilient Federal Forests Act. The legislation implements common-sense reforms to ensure the long-term health of our forests. I look forward to working with Congressman Westerman to advocate for this bill as it moves through Congress.”

A member of the House Natural Resources and Armed Services 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 Praises President Trump’s Announcement Recognizing Israel’s Sovereignty Over Golan Heights Territory

2019/03/21

WASHINGTON – Today, President Trump announced that the United States will formally recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights.

During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel gained control of Golan Heights from Syria and the U.S. has recognized it as Syrian Territory since the 1970’s. For decades, Israel has pressed for international recognition of its control of the Golan. President Trump’s announcement comes ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Washington next week. 

Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) praised the President’s announcement with the following statement: 

“This is not only a critical diplomatic announcement, but it’s also a simple recognition of the facts on the ground. For over half a century, the Golan Heights have been under Israeli control. The Heights are a key to Israel’s national security and the region’s stability; before they were captured from Syria, Israelis faced artillery and rocket attacks from Syrian forces on the Golan. Furthermore, over the past decade, the state of Syria has ceased to exist in any meaningful sense as the central government has collapsed. Terrorists and criminal gangs such as Hezbollah, ISIS, al Qaeda, and Hafez Assad have murdered hundreds of thousands while fighting over the remnants of Syria.  I commend President Trump for taking this decisive action and recognizing once and for all that the Golan Heights are an integral part of Israel.”

A member of the House Natural Resources and Armed Services 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 Trump Signs Rep. Cook's Public Lands Legislation

2019/03/12

WASHINGTON- Today, President Donald Trump signed into law S. 47, the Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which overwhelmingly passed in the Senate and House last month. Rep. Paul Cook (R- Apple Valley) attended the signing ceremony at the White House earlier this afternoon. 

The Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act is a package of bipartisan public lands-related bills that passed the House or Senate in the previous Congress. It includes critical lands legislation Rep. Cook introduced in the last Congress, including the Santa Ana Wash Land Exchange Act and the California Desert Protection and Recreation Act (previously known as the California Off-road Recreation and Conservation Act).

The Santa Ana Land Wash and Exchange Act authorizes a land exchange in San Bernardino County, which will boost the economy, provide increased water storage, and protect critical habitat for threatened and endangered species.

The California Desert Protection and Recreation Act is the culmination of over five years of work in Congress by Rep. Cook, as well as over a decade of work by supporters on the ground. This landmark legislation creates the first national system of Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation areas and designates or expands 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 by a future administration. 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 open permanently for OHV use in the California Desert.

This legislation also designates approximately 18,000 acres of existing federal land as the Alabama Hills National Scenic Area. This restricts 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 are unaffected.

The California Desert Protection and Recreation Act 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 adds approximately 4,500 acres of land to the north of Joshua Tree National Park to the park and authorizes the park to acquire the Joshua Tree Visitor Center near the main entrance, while Death Valley National Park will expand by approximately 35,000 acres.

It also creates permanent wilderness areas on 375,500 acres of federal land in the California Desert, most of which are currently designated as “wilderness study areas,” while releasing approximately 124,000 acres of other wilderness study areas back to general use in the Cady Mountains and Soda Mountains regions.

This bill designates or expands 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 Bureau of Land Management land near “Juniper Flats” outside of Lucerne Valley 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, “It’s been a long process to get to this point, but this is truly a model for how grassroots legislating should work. This bill had widespread support from local governments, recreational groups, and conservation groups, as well as significant bipartisan support. It was a great honor to see President Trump recognize all of this hard work by signing S.47 into law today. I thank President Trump, my colleagues in the House and Senate, and most importantly all of those people on the ground who worked tirelessly to get a compromise bill that we could all be proud of. This is a huge legislative victory.”  

A member of the House Natural Resources and Armed Services 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 Meets with Victor Valley College Students in DC

2019/03/12

WASHINGTON- Yesterday, Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) met with a group of students from the Victor Valley College’s Associated Student Body (ASB). The group of students were here as part of the American Student Association of Community Colleges, which is a student-centered national network of student governments representing more than 11 million students enrolled in more than 1,200 community colleges.

The group had the opportunity to share their concerns while dining with Rep. Cook at the popular DC hamburger chain “Good Stuff Eatery.” The students discussed several priorities including Pell Grant funding, DACA, and the Higher Education Act Reauthorization. The students were led by their advisor Robert Sewell.

Rep. Cook said, “As a former college professor, I really enjoyed getting to spend time with these bright students who had so much to share. I was able to share and discuss with them how things currently stand for many of the issues that they care about. I was also intrigued listening to their desired career trajectories and feel very enthusiastic about their futures. There’s a lot of potential in these students and I really appreciated the opportunity to hear their insights and learn more about the challenges that they are facing.”

A member of the House Natural Resources and Armed Services 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 Cosponsors Legislation to Redirect High Speed Rail Funds to Critical Water Infrastructure

2019/03/08

WASHINGTON- Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) announced today that he has cosponsored the Repurposing Assets to Increase Long-term Water Availability (RAILWAY) Act. The bill would repurpose federal funds from the failed California High-Speed Rail (HSR) Project to water storage infrastructure and to help communities where residential drinking water wells have run dry or have elevated nitrate levels.

The HSR Project has been fraught with mismanagement and high costs. Initially projected to cost $33.6 billion, it has ballooned to more than an estimated $77 billion. In addition, the project has continually failed to meet deadlines and the $10-$12 billion in promised private investment has never materialized. Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom said that the HSR Project would take too long to build and that there “simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego.”

Following his announcement, the U.S. Department of Transportation notified the State of California that it’s rescinding nearly $929 million in unspent federal funds that were previously allocated for the project.

The RAILWAY Act would ensure an end to federal funding for the HSR Project. Moreover, it would redirect funds to critical water infrastructure in California to increase water storage capacity and help protect against droughts by expanding existing reservoirs and building new ones. It would also provide funding through the US Department of Agriculture to award grants to rural communities to help them develop new sources of water and reduce, or eliminate, elevated nitrate levels in drinking water. 

Rep. Cook said, “The last major reservoir in California was built forty years ago. Since then, our population has grown significantly, and we’re ill-prepared to endure droughts. It’s time we take action to increase our water supply and modernize our water infrastructure. This bill makes good use of funds that were already going to be spent in California. I hope that Congress will pass this legislation quickly.”

A member of the House Natural Resources and Armed Services 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 Public Lands Legislation Overwhelmingly Passes House

2019/02/26

WASHINGTON- Today, the House overwhelmingly passed S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act, which passed the Senate earlier this month. The bill now goes to the President for his signature.

The National Resources Management Act was a package of bipartisan public lands-related bills that passed the House or Senate in the previous Congress. It included critical lands legislation that had been introduced by Rep. Paul Cook (R- Apple Valley) in the last Congress. Specifically, the bill includes the Santa Ana Wash Land Exchange Act and most importantly the California Desert Protection and Recreation Act (previously known as the California Off-road Recreation and Conservation Act).

The Santa Ana Wash Land Exchange Act would authorize a land exchange in San Bernardino County, which will boost the economy, provide increased water storage, and protect critical habitat for threatened and endangered species.

The National Resources Management Act also includes Rep. Cook’s California Desert Protection and Recreation Act. Its inclusion is the culmination of over 5 years of work on the issue by Rep. Cook, as well as over a decade of work by activists on the ground. This bill has widespread support from local governments, recreational groups, and conservation groups, as well as significant bipartisan support.

This landmark legislation 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 also 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 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 to the north of Joshua Tree National Park to the park and authorize the park to acquire the Joshua Tree Visitor Center near the main entrance, while Death Valley National Park would be expanded by approximately 35,000 acres.

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 historic legislation is the culmination of years of work by members of both parties in both chambers, as well as countless groups and individuals on the ground. When it becomes law, this will be the most comprehensive public lands legislation to pass Congress in over a decade. I’m particularly proud of what we were able to include locally. Groups, such as off-roaders and environmentalists, who have historically been at odds over how best to manage and use our public lands were able to work together, forging a compromise to protect the desert and all its uses. This is truly a model for how grassroots legislating should work and I look forward to it becoming law.”

A member of the House Natural Resources and Armed Services 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 FAA Plans to Fix Lake Arrowhead Flight Pattern

2019/02/21

WASHINGTON- Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) announced today that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has begun work on a new flight pattern over the Lake Arrowhead area. The current flight pattern, in use since 2017, has generated numerous complaints from local residents over impacts to their quality of life.

After Rep. Cook met with the FAA multiple times throughout 2017 and the beginning of 2018, the FAA implemented a nighttime change as a temporary stopgap while it continued to study a complete route change. While this change provided some relief, Rep. Cook continued to meet with FAA officials to advocate for a permanent change that moves the route away from Lake Arrowhead. The FAA will continue developing this new pattern and will make it publicly available. Additionally, it will be conducting all required environmental studies and reviews.

Rep. Cook said, “This result would not have been possible without the support of Supervisor Janice Rutherford and all of the local residents who made their voices heard to correct this issue. I’m gratified the FAA has done the right thing and begun working on a permanent solution to this problem. This is welcome news for mountain residents who have been plagued by this issue for almost two years, and I’ll continue working with FAA officials to ensure this is implemented as quickly as possible.”

A member of the House Natural Resources and Armed Services 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 Deal to Avert Shutdown

2019/02/14

WASHINGTON- Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) issued the following statement after the House passed H.J. Res 31:

“Tonight, I voted to avert another government shutdown. Shutdowns threaten our national security, disrupt our government, and unduly burden hard-working Americans who are forced to go without paychecks. While this agreement is far from perfect, it will guarantee critical funding to keep the government running for the rest of the fiscal year without the threat of another shutdown. This bill provides a down payment on the border wall, while providing additional resources for our border patrol and ICE. However, this is only a first step; we can and must continue to push for additional funding to secure our border and stop illegal immigration along with the dangerous flow of crime and drugs that comes with it.”

A member of the House Natural Resources and Armed Services 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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