U.S. Congressman Paul Cook | In The News
District Update | March 17, 2015
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Capitol Update

Congressman Cook Votes to Protect Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders

Congressman Cook voted in favor of H.R. 1191, the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act. The bill will ensure that volunteer emergency services workers are not counted as full-time employees under the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer mandate. This bill would protect fire departments from burdensome health care costs, which could lead them to close or significantly reduce their emergency response activities.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs warned that 780,000 volunteer firefighters may be subject to rules under the ACA without this bill. Implementing this legislation would have no significant budgetary effect and would not affect direct spending on revenues.

Cook said, “Volunteer firefighters provide vital services in many communities. Without this legislation they’ll become a causality of Obamacare. Simply put, this is a public safety issue."

OPINION: On The Yemen Evacuation -By Congressman Paul Cook

I was stunned when I heard media reports of the evacuation of the United States embassy in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. In September 2014, President Obama cited Yemen as an example of the success of his counterterrorism strategy. A short four months later, the Yemeni government collapsed as President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi was placed under house arrest by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, a Shi’ite Muslim group from the country’s northern region. They swiftly captured the capitol without substantial resistance. This is the second time a Yemeni president has been ousted since 2011, when the “Arab Spring” ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The resulting power struggle between President Hadi’s Sunni regime, the Houthis, and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been a foreign policy nightmare ever since.

In the past few weeks, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Saudi Arabia have all evacuated their embassies in Sanaa. However, the February 10 evacuation of the US embassy was a disaster. Instead of bringing amphibious ships ashore to safely retrieve our Marine Security Force and their equipment, the State Department chartered private airplanes into a neighboring country. Prior to boarding the aircraft, Marines were ordered to destroy their weapons, as they would not be allowed to travel with them. Some Marines were forced to destroy their weapons with sledgehammers, and larger crew-manned weapons were simply abandoned. Despite these hasty efforts, Houthi rebels seized approximately 25 US Vehicles and numerous weapons.

In all my years, I’ve rarely seen such bureaucratic ineptitude by the State Department. The decision to evacuate by air essentially donated US military weapons and vehicles to Iranian-backed rebels who had just overthrown an American ally. The State Department said in a press conference that they expected the rebels to respect the embassy and hope to return in a few months to find it in the same condition. It took less than 24 hours for the rebels to seize the vehicles. These weapons and equipment could now be used against the US and its allies. This decision has jeopardized our national security and should be investigated by Congress. Additionally, 12 Yemeni detainees have been released from Guantanamo Bay in the past year. I have no doubt that these high-profile seasoned combatants will find their way home and back into the fight.

In response to this crisis, I joined with other members of the House Armed Service Committee to demand answers from the Pentagon and State Department. Our letter, the subject of a Marine Corps Time article, tries to discover who made the decision to evacuate, why commercial air was the chosen mode of transportation, what types and quantities of military equipment were hastily destroyed, and who ultimately made the decision to destroy these weapons. This decision likely cost the Defense Department hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As we’re seeing with the debate over arming Ukraine, the Unites States normally takes months or years before providing lethal weapons to active combatants in a war. This rash decision put the United States in the position of unwittingly arming an Iranian militia and warrants a serious review of whether the State Department should ever have had the authority to command the Marine Security Force. In 26 years of service to my country, I never once saw a Marine lay down his weapon. And for what time I have left in this Congress, I will fight to make sure that it never happens again.

This editorial appeared in the March 6, 2015 print version of the Yucapia Newsmirror on Page C.

Congressional Art Competition NOW OPEN
The Congressional Art Competition began in 1982 to provide an opportunity for members of Congress to encourage and recognize the artistic talents of their young constituents. Since then, more than 700,000 high school students have been involved with this nationwide competition.

The Artistic Discovery Contest is open to all high school students in the 8th District. Students will work through the art teachers at their high school to submit works to the competition. The winning artwork will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol complex for one year. In addition, second place will be displayed in Congressman Cook’s Capitol Office, and the third place selection will be on display in the Apple Valley District Office.
All artwork must be submitted by April 10, 2015. Art work entered in the contest may be up to 28 inches by 28 inches (including the frame) and may be up to 4 inches in depth.

The submission may be:
Paintings - including oil, acrylics, and watercolor
Drawings - including pastels, colored pencil, pencil, charcoal, ink, and markers
Collage
Prints - including lithographs, silkscreen, and block prints
Mixed Media
Computer Generated Art
Photography

All entries must be an original in concept, design, and execution.

If you would like more information on the annual Congressional District Art Competition, please contact Cameron Wessel (Cameron.Wessel@mail.house.gov) in Congressman Cook’s District Office at 760-247-1815.

District Update

JROTC Combined Military Ball a Huge Success
On Friday March 13, Congressman Cook attended the ‪JROTC‬ combined military ball at Victorville’s Hilton Garden Inn. The California Cadet Corps had over 350 students from the following schools in attendance: Riverside Preparatory School California Cadet Corps, University Preparatory School California Cadet Corps, Silverado High School California Cadet Corps, Victor Valley High School California Cadet Corps, and Options for Youth Charter School California Cadet Corps.

Highland Student Headed to West Point
 
Congratulations to Chloe Smith who has received an official appointment and my nomination to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Chloe, a resident of Highland, is currently a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas High School where she is a top academic student. She is active in the CA Cadet Corp, serving as Cadet Major, and is a member of the varsity track team and cheerleading squad.

Joshua Tree National Park now Hiring for Youth Conservation Corps.

Joshua Tree National Park in California is seeking applicants for their Youth Conservation Corps. (YCC) program. This is an ideal program for students interested in conservation and wildlife environment. Projects will enroll an equal number of males and females but candidates must be in good health because projects require moderate to difficult physical labor.

This year's 8-week YCC program begins Monday, June 15, and runs through Friday, August 7. Applicants for YCC crew member positions must be between the ages of 16 and 18 during the employment period. YCC enrollees work 40 hours per week and earn minimum wage.

Additional program information and the current application can be obtained online from the park's website. Completed applications should be mailed to Volunteer & Youth Programs Coordinator, Shenandoah National Park, 3655 US Hwy 211 East, Luray, VA 22835. Applications must be postmarked by April 15 to be eligible.

Two-lane Crossover Planned for Southbound Interstate 15

A temporary lane configuration will be installed on southbound Interstate 15 from just south of Ranchero Road to just south of Oak Hill Road. The two-lane crossover, less than 2-miles long, is expected to start the weekend of March 14 for about four weeks.

During this time, the southbound Oak Hill off-ramp will be closed.

Motorists should use caution and reduce speeds when traveling through the area. California Highway Patrol officers may be on site to assist with traffic and safety. 

Small Business Administration Offers Disaster Assistance to California Businesses and Residents Affected by the Round Fire

Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to California businesses and residents affected by the Round Fire that occurred February 6-12, 2015. Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Disaster loan information and applications are available from SBA's Customer Service Center by calling (800)-659-2955 or emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

For more information, please visit:

Disaster Loan Outreach Center in Mono County
Crowley Lake Community Center
58 Pearson Road
Crowley Lake, CA 93546

Hours of operation are Monday- Friday 9AM-5:30PM through March 25, 2015.

Veterans’ Corner

My office is here to help you. If you or someone you know needs help with the Veterans' Administration please call my Apple Valley District Office at (760) 247-1815.

DAV Comes to 29Palms

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) will be at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles Lodge located at 67330 Twentynine Palms Highway in Twentynine Palms on March 24, 2015 as part of their Mobile Service Office Program. During this time, a DAV National Service Officer (NSO) will provide counseling and claim filing assistance.

For further information, please call (310) 477-2530.

Sent from the Office of U.S. Representative Paul Cook
APPLE VALLEY OFFICE
14955 Dale Evans Parkway
Apple Valley Town Hall
Apple Valley, CA 92307
Phone: 760.247.1815
Hours: 9:00am - 5:00pm
YUCAIPA OFFICE
34282 Yucaipa Boulevard
Yucaipa, CA 92399
Phone: 909.797.4900
Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm
WASHINGTON, DC OFFICE
1222 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202.225.5861
Hours: 9:00am - 6:00pm
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