Congressman Cook Newsletter: July 8, 2014
Making Sense of The Most Recent Crisis in Iraq-An Editorial by Congressman Paul Cook
Iraq is back in the news, and the news has not been good. ISIS, which stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, is a radical and militant Sunni terrorist organization intent on establishing an independent state in portions of Iraq and Syria. Recently, ISIS carried out a series of successful attacks in northern Iraq and captured major cities including Mosul and Tikrit. These cities are home to large oil refineries and are of strategic importance to the Iraqi people. Earlier this week, ISIS launched a full-scale assault on Baghdad, home to the Iraqi government and the U.S. Embassy. These attacks demonstrate the continued instability in Iraq and the fragile state of the Iraqi government and military.
In response to the ISIS offensive, the Iranian government, which is dominated by Shiite Muslims, sent troops into Iraq to battle ISIS. Iran has vowed to protect important Shiite holy sites that Sunni militants have threatened to destroy. The deployment of Iranian forces into Iraq could lead to the development of a long-term sectarian conflict that has the potential to draw in other regional powers, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel. This would cause a significant disruption to the global economy and hurt the already fragile Iraqi economy. Such a conflict could also lead to the creation of new safe havens for terrorists, from which they could launch new attacks on America.
The U.S. responded to the crisis by redirecting an aircraft carrier and other ships into the Persian Gulf and recently started flying surveillance missions over Iraq. Additionally, a detachment of Marines was sent to the embassy in Baghdad to provide additional security and protect U.S. diplomats. The Iraqi government has called for the U.S. to launch airstrikes on ISIS militants, but the Obama administration has yet to decide on the level of U.S. involvement.
To be clear, there is no easy solution to the current conflict in Iraq. The conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims dates back centuries, and Iraq itself could take decades to stabilize, even without assaults from groups like ISIS. The rapidly deteriorating situation in Iraq, the ongoing conflict in Syria and Russia’s provocative actions in the Ukraine serve as stark reminders of the need to maintain a strong U.S. military to counter emerging threats. However, there are significant challenges in maintaining the strength of our armed forces and supporting veterans amid shifting budget priorities.
The threats to America and our allies are real, and we must maintain our military strength. This is the only way to ensure what Reagan called “peace through strength,” wise words for this uncertain time. Only a strong America can deter our enemies and ensure we have the strength to protect its people, homeland and interests.
This editorial first appeared in the Hi-Desert Star. You can read it here.
Public Health Services Are Vital
Congressman Cook voted on three bills that protect public health services being administered across the Eighth District. The bills passed include:
H.R. 1281, the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act of 2013 amends the Public Health Service Act to extend a grant program for screening and counseling services related to heritable disorders. This bill makes it possible to expand eligible grantees to include health professional organizations and early childhood health systems.
H.R. 1098, the Traumatic Brain Injury Reauthorization Act of 2013 amends the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize funding for the center for Disease Control and Prevention projects to reduce the incidence of traumatic brain injury, and traumatic brain injury surveillance systems.
H.R. 4631, the Autism CARES Act reauthorizes the Combating Autism Act (CAA), which was first enacted in 2006 and then reauthorized again in 2011. This law has made possible investments in autism research, treatment, training, and services, including the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), a body comprised of public and private partners charged with coordinating federal efforts to address autism.
These bills passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support and are headed to the United States Senate for their further consideration.
Audit of the High Desert Vet Center On Way
Over the last few months my office received several complaints from veterans about the service they received at the High Desert Veteran Resource Center. My district staff in Apple Valley immediately met with these veterans and their families, heard their concerns, and demanded that the US Department of Veterans be held accountable for the behavior of their employees. As a result of my office’s involvement, VA officials conducted an audit of the High Desert Vet Center and have pledged to make significant staffing changes at the facility. As your Representative in Congress, I believe it is my duty to ensure that veterans receive the best medical treatment available from the VA, and I will work tirelessly to advocate on their behalf. If you are experiencing difficulties with obtaining your benefits from the VA, please contact my Apple Valley office at 760-247-1815.
Please click here to read more about the High Desert Vet Center in the Victorville Daily Press.