Paul Cook

Paul Cook


Cook Hosts Member Event with Ambassadors of the Central American Integration System (SICA)




WASHINGTON, D.C.. – Today, Rep. Paul Cook (CA-08), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, hosted a Committee event with Members of Congress and Ambassadors of the Central American Integration System (SICA) to discuss regional integration efforts.

Chairman Cook: “The security and prosperity of Central America are critical to U.S. interests. Closer regional integration among these countries that facilitates security cooperation, economic growth, democratic values, and stronger institutions is also in the best interest of the region. I applaud the efforts of SICA’s member states to develop a regional security strategy and build systems to share information and facilitate commercial trade across borders through the Central American Customs Union agreement. As the U.S. is a regional observer of SICA, I look forward to working with our partners in the days ahead to support efforts to facilitate legitimate trade and travel, greater regional security integration, stronger biometric controls, and increased information-sharing to track regional criminal activities and provide more security and economic benefits for the region.”



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Rep. Cook Votes to Combat School Violence


WASHINGTON –Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) voted today for HR 4909, the Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act. The bipartisan bill passed the House with overwhelming support.

The STOP School Violence Act creates a grant program to train students, teachers, school officials, and local law enforcement about how to identify and intervene early when signs of violence arise, creates a coordinated reporting system, and implements school threat assessment protocols to prevent school shootings before they happen.

Specifically, the bill provides funding to prevent student violence against others and themselves and includes prevention training and active shooter training designed to give students and school personnel the ability to recognize and respond quickly to warning signs of school violence.

It also includes funding for technology and equipment to improve school security including the development and operation of anonymous reporting systems, such as mobile apps, a hotline, and a website. Funding could also be used for metal detectors, locks, and other technologies to keep schools safe.

Lastly, the STOP School Violence Act provides funding to support law enforcement coordination efforts, and, in particular, those officers who already staff schools.

Rep. Cook said, “This common-sense legislation provides significant new resources to keep our schools safe. School should be an environment where students feel safe from the threat of violence. This bill will provide our schools and law-enforcement with the tools they need to prevent acts of violence before they occur. I hope the Senate passes this bill and that the President signs it promptly.”

A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.

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Cook Issues Statement on Departure of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Paul Cook (CA-08), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, issued the following statement on the departure of Rex Tillerson from his role as Secretary of State:

Chairman Cook: “I commend Secretary Tillerson for his service to our nation as Secretary of State. As Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, I’m particularly thankful for the time he spent working to strengthen our relationship with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. In February, Secretary Tillerson made an important trip to the region where he advocated for maintaining democratic institutions, combating corruption, and applying pressure to restore democracy and freedom in Venezuela. I’m honored to have worked with him and look forward to working with my former House colleague and future Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to continue increasing U.S. engagement with our partners in the region.”


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Cook Applauds Nomination of Kimberly Breier for Key Western Hemisphere Affairs Post at State Department


Washington, D.C. – Rep. Paul Cook (CA-08), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, released the following statement on President Trump’s nomination of Kimberly Breier to serve as the State Department’s Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs:

Chairman Cook: “I applaud the Administration’s decision to name Kimberly Breier to fill a critical leadership position for advancing U.S. interests in the Western Hemisphere. The region possesses huge energy and investment opportunities for U.S. businesses, and it will have the world’s attention this year with the Summit of the Americas, the G7, and the G20. Increasing challenges from transnational criminal organizations and terrorists who wish to do us harm and systemic corruption and impunity plaguing the region have led to low levels of public trust in democracy and threaten even more instability. In all these issues, as well as continued U.S. support for the freedom of the Venezuelan and Cuban people, it is imperative that the U.S. lead with clarity and principled conviction. For months, I have urged the Administration to prioritize filling key senior level Western Hemisphere positions with qualified individuals who best reflect the priorities of the Administration and majorities in Congress. I applaud the choice of Kimberly for this key role and urge my Senate colleagues to move forward quickly with her confirmation.”






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Cook, Sires Urge State and USAID to Strengthen Democratic Institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean


Washington, D.C.– Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA-08), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, and Ranking Member Albio Sires (D-NJ-08), wrote a bipartisan letter to the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator emphasizing the need to prioritize greater foreign assistance to strengthen democratic institutions in the Western Hemisphere, especially in view of this year’s elections in the region:

In the letter Cook and Sires say, “This year millions of people in the Western Hemisphere will go to the polls for presidential elections in Costa Rica, Paraguay, Colombia, Mexico and Brazil. Millions more will be disenfranchised by the fraudulent contest in Venezuela and the succession of power in Cuba. We write to urge a renewed focus on strengthening democracy and governance to prevent corruption and anti-democratic actors from undermining these elections and fragile democracies in the region. Widespread government corruption, weak public institutions, and declining public confidence in democratic systems have led to a rise in populist presidential candidates and concerns about external state and non-state actors interfering in the elections. The U.S. has a vital interest in doing more to strengthen democracy in the region, so we ask for your full support to fund democracy, governance, and anti-corruption efforts in the region. We also urge long-term support for electoral institutions, the renovation of political parties, legislative and judicial reforms, and assistance for civil society to hold elected leaders accountable. We further urge your attention to reports we have heard of state or non-state actors that may attempt to undermine this year’s elections.”

Full text of the letter is available here.


*NOTE: The Subcommittee held a hearing on elections in the Western Hemisphere on January 10, 2018. 



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Cook Discusses Need for Increased U.S - Caribbean Engagement




WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Paul Cook (CA-08), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, spoke at an event hosted by the Caribbean- Central American Action, the Embassy of Barbados, and the Congressional Caribbean Caucus entitled, “Rebuild, Rethinking, Resilience – Lessons for Economic and Security Partnerships after the 2017 Hurricane Season” in which he discussed priorities for increasing U.S. engagement with the Caribbean:

Chairman Cook: “The U.S. is the Caribbean’s largest trading partner, and the Caribbean is a critical region for U.S. interests. Millions of U.S. tourists visit Caribbean islands, and thousands of Caribbean students receive an education in the U.S. Our cooperation on economic and defense issues, activities on disaster-preparedness risk mitigation, work on energy security, and targeted efforts like the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative to address drug trafficking and organized crime, are all critical to building a stronger, safer, and more prosperous Caribbean region. Our neighbors in the Caribbean also have a vital responsibility to work together to address the crisis in Venezuela, which is spilling over to other countries with increasing refugee flows and creating public health challenges. I applaud our Caribbean partners who have chosen to stand for democracy, but I believe we all must do more to support the Venezuelan people. In the days ahead, I look forward to greater collaboration on all these issues to achieve greater security and prosperity throughout the region.”

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Rep. Cook Votes to Fight Online Sex Trafficking


WASHINGTON –Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) voted today for HR 1865, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act. The bill enhances criminal penalties for websites that facilitate illegal prostitution or sex trafficking, and it provides sex trafficking victims with restitution. It passed with House with bipartisan support.

The internet marketplace has grown rampant with advertisements and solicitations for sex trafficking. Bad actor websites, like, have argued that section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) gives websites immunity, and these websites have been successful in avoiding accountability to the state or to victims of sex trafficking.

Prosecutors do not have the tools they need to enforce state criminal laws and shut down these online red-light districts. This bill begins to rectify this problem by doing the following:

  • Clarifies that section 230 of the CDA does NOT grant immunity to websites that facilitate sex trafficking
  • Allows websites that have the intent to promote or facilitate illegal prostitution can be prosecuted
  • Allows prosecutors to seek higher penalties for websites who promote the illegal prostitution of 5 or more persons or act with reckless disregard for the fact that sex trafficking occurs on their website
  • Gives victims of sex trafficking a pathway to sue bad actor websites for conduct violating the new criminal law

Rep. Cook said, “Those who run these sex trafficking websites are criminals. The law never intended to give them a pass and this legislation will give prosecutors the authority to prosecute them and provide victims with a way to hold these criminals accountable.”

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 Strengthen Access for Disabled and Curb Abusive Lawsuits


WASHINGTON –Rep. Paul Cook (R-Apple Valley) voted today for HR 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act. Cook is co-sponsor of this bipartisan bill which promotes access for persons with disabilities and gives business owners and local communities the tools they need to accommodate all their visitors without fear of a lawsuit. The bill passed the House by a margin of 225-192.

The ADA (American Disabilities Act) is now more than a quarter century old. The ADA is historic as it was the first comprehensive civil rights law enacted to protect disabled people because of their disability. HR 620 is a narrowly tailored bill which targets “drive-by” lawsuits which often saddle small businesses with expensive legal fees for technical violations of the ADA that they may not understand or recognize.

Most property owners or small business want to make their property accessible and accommodate all customers. This legislation amends the ADA to ensure that businesses have an opportunity to rectify an access issues after they are made aware of it before being dragged into court and subjected to costly legal fees. 

Rep. Cook said, “Small business owners are the backbone of our economy. This legislation strengthens the ADA by ensuring that businesses can use their money to fix actually an access issue once it’s identified rather than pay costly settlements to greedy trial lawyers. This a common-sense fix which helps Americans with disabilities and small businesses alike.”

A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.



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Cook Applauds Peru's Action Rescinding Venezuela's Invitation to the Summit of the Americas


Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Paul Cook (CA-08), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, released the following statement on the decision by Peruvian President Pedro Kuczynski to rescind the invitation to Venezuela to attend the Eighth Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru:

Chairman Cook: “I applaud President Kuczynski for his recent decision to rescind Venezuela’s invitation to April’s Summit of the Americas. The OAS Summit of the Americas is intended to involve democratic nations in the Hemisphere, and the Venezuelan dictatorship should not be rewarded with a seat at the table given its ongoing human rights abuses and most recent efforts to hold an illegitimate snap election that further undermines democratic principles. Peru’s actions should serve as an example to all democratic nations in the region, and I remain committed to working with Peru and our regional partners to restore democracy in Venezuela and promote freedom and the rule of law throughout the region.”


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Cook Holds Oversight Hearing on Organization of American States


Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Paul Cook (R-CA-08), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, delivered the following opening statement at the Subcommittee hearing entitled, “Advancing U.S. Interests Through the Organization of American States”:

     “The Organization of American States or OAS is the oldest multilateral regional organization in the world. As Secretary Tillerson recalled in his remarks earlier this month, the “precursor to today’s OAS” began with the First International Conference of American States in 1889, hosted by the U.S. We and 20 American States are signatories to the OAS, which was chartered in 1948. The Inter-American Democratic Charter adopted in Lima on September 11, 2001 – on the very day that the U.S. was brutally attacked – was a unified response by our neighbors that tyranny will not win. Article One of the Inter-American Democratic Charter affirms that “the peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and the governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.” This is the underlying reason for the existence of the OAS and is a vision that we share with our Latin American and Caribbean partners. 

      Yet today, the OAS is composed of 35 nations in the Americas. The Member States of an organization devoted to promoting democracy welcomed the Communist Cuban regime back into its membership in 2009 and has so far prevented the suspension of the Venezuelan dictatorship that has wreaked havoc on its people and sent hundreds of thousands of refugees to neighboring countries – all for some preferential financing and subsidized oil. OAS Secretary General Almagro has shown leadership in fighting for the Venezuelan people to reclaim their country as has Peruvian President Kuczynski in yesterday’s decision to rescind the invitation to Venezuela to attend April’s Summit of the Americas, a bold action in defense of democracy and human rights. Today, we meet to consider the role of the OAS and other Inter-American Organizations, such as the Pan-American Health Organization, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, and the Pan-American Institute of Geography and History towards advancing U.S. interests in the region. U.S. assessed contributions to these organizations is nearly 60 percent of their budgets, and the American people have an interest in knowing why we contribute money, if U.S. investments have achieved results, and if there are areas for reform.

      Following years of advocacy from the Foreign Affairs Committee for the OAS to appoint a Secretary for Multidimensional Security and a new Inspector General, I commend Secretary General Almagro for filling these key positions. Conversely, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently found that the U.S. faces challenges in tracking results for aid to Inter-American organizations, and the U.S. may have difficulty complying with the 2013 Organization of American States Revitalization and Reform Act, which prioritized quota reform in the OAS so that no Member State pays more than 50 percent of the OAS’ assessed fees. The next OAS General Assembly meeting occurs in June, and I believe that this is the time to address these issues if the OAS is ever going to move forward to address its financial deficit. The U.S. should no longer shoulder the uneven financial responsibilities when half of OAS Member States had quotas below $100,000 and quotas for 26 Member States equaled less than one percent.

     Today, the OAS has a $80 million budget and four objectives: promoting democracy, human rights, development, and regional security. OAS electoral missions play critical roles in safeguarding the electoral process in the hemisphere, and this year, 10 countries have requested OAS observation missions. This is no small thing when the region will be holding six presidential elections, and regional confidence in democracy is at an all-time low. The OAS political missions, like the OAS Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras, assist countries with important anti-corruption efforts. The OAS Inter-American Committee against Terrorism and Cyber-Security program prioritizes cybersecurity and terrorism finance prevention efforts. Yet for all these efforts, some say the OAS is overstretched and underfunded, lacking clarity about its missions. Others laud the efforts by the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Inter-American Court of Human Rights but question whether these entities respect the Member States’ sovereignty and domestic rule of law.

     In addition, the Inter-American organizations I mentioned earlier all receive U.S. funding, and these entities support work that is significant to many Member States. However, some have raised concerns that these efforts, along with OAS efforts related to scholarships, lead to overreaching mandates and siphon away resources from other critical priorities. There may be ways to modernize these priorities to achieve greater cost savings through other entities or the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). I want to take a moment to note that the U.S. is a 30 percent shareholder of the IDB, and the IDB’s initial selection of China to host the IDB’s 60th anniversary annual meeting is unacceptable for the U.S. and others that want to see greater private sector investment and transparent governance in the Americas.

     In conclusion, the Trump Administration has named this the “Year of the Americas,” and I believe that the U.S. has a vital role to play in leading efforts to modernize the OAS, which desperately needs a new IT system for instance, and in ensuring that U.S. support for the OAS and Inter-American organizations support U.S. interests. To do so, the U.S. Mission to the OAS needs an Ambassador and a cohesive strategy. I urge my Senate colleagues to move quickly to confirm President Trump’s nominee, Carlos Trujillo. With that, I turn to Ranking Member Sires for his opening remarks.”



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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.

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