Congressman Paul Cook

Representing the 8th District of California
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Congressman Paul Cook's Newsletter: November 28, 2017

Nov 29, 2017
Press Release

District Update | November 28, 2017

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U.S. Congressman Paul Cook

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Sequestration is Damaging Military Readiness

 

In 2011, as the United States was removing the last of its troops from Iraq, few people in the West had ever heard of ISIS, North Korea didn’t have advanced nuclear or missile technology, Putin wasn’t the president of Russia, and former President Barack Obama signed the Budget Control Act (BCA) into law.

This law, often referred to by its enforcement mechanism “sequestration,” set the yearly defense spending caps for the next 10 years based more on budget than on strategic and military necessity. As a result, the 2018 defense spending top line is influenced more by domestic spending caps than by very real and credible threats: a nuclearized North Korea, the expansionist threat from Russia, the growing strength of China, or the persistent global threat of terrorism. While we must always be careful stewards of taxpayer dollars, disregarding global realities in favor of budgetary purity has left us vulnerable and less secure. The security, prosperity and military might of the United States was not built on this flawed philosophy, and we must work to end the BCA for military budgeting as soon as possible.

The damage of the BCA is most evident in military readiness. Military “readiness” measures our service members’ abilities to operate at levels sufficient to counteract our enemy with the least risk to American lives. Since the BCA was enacted, military funding has remained at 2011 designated levels, with minor adjustments, while commitments around the world continued to increase, causing funding for training to be moved to other operational needs and subsequently leaving our service members undertrained. To date, the consequences have been most visible with high-profile accidents like ship collisions and aircraft accidents, but a large-scale conflict would reveal what many military leaders know: our low state of readiness will lead to lives lost unnecessarily and, potentially, catastrophe.  

To put the shortfall in perspective, look at the defense budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. The President asked for an increase in the defense budget to cover current military requirements, to invest in modernization to keep up with Russia and China, and to begin rebuilding our armed services’ readiness to fight if necessary. After multiple briefings from the Armed Services and military experts, Congress agreed with a need to return readiness to acceptable levels, so we authorized a budget of $634 billion. If the current $549 billion BCA cap for FY 2018 isn’t raised, we will be underfunding the military by $85 billion dollars. Since we cannot take funding away from current operations with troops in harm’s way, a large portion of that money will be taken from training, which will truly break our countries readiness.  

After years of watching military readiness decline under the BCA, we need to repeal this cheap and shortsighted political device before it has irreversible effects on our service men and women. Another option could be to keep the BCA but raise the funding caps, which could help stave off immediate disaster – though it would retain the flawed overall approach. Regardless, we are quickly approaching a deadline to fund our military at levels that our brave young women and men deserve, and our national security requires. We cannot in good conscience allow the BCA level for FY 2018 to jeopardize either.

This editorial was published on November 21, 2017 on American Military News.

Dealing with North Korea

So far this year, North Korea has conducted multiple nuclear weapon tests, a series of intercontinental ballistic missile tests, and has continued to prioritize the development of nuclear weapons over the well-being of its own citizens. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un assumes that provoking the U.S., threatening our allies, and developing nuclear weapons will secure the future of his regime. He is wrong in this assumption. This threat is critical to the national security of the United States and for the safety of the world.

North Korea has disregarded almost every agreement and commitment it has made to the U.S. and our allies. The regime has also demonstrated a proclivity for breaking international law and undermining international oversight of nuclear development. It is imperative that as North Korea’s nuclear capability increases, we continue to put pressure on Kim Jong Un and his regime. 

In response to North Korea’s continued violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions and inflammatory rhetoric, the U.S. has worked with its allies to collectively implement stricter sanctions on North Korea. In August, the President signed into law a sanctions bill that expanded the tools at his disposal to punish North Korea. Additionally, the law required the President to determine whether North Korea should be classified as a state sponsor of terrorism. This designation would give us even more tools to pressure the North Korean regime, and I have urged the President to make this determination quickly. These sanctions are an attempt to bring North Korea to the negotiating table through peaceful means, which is my preference and that of nearly everyone outside of the North Korean regime.

Kim Jong Un’s most recent actions have underscored the seriousness of the danger North Korea poses to Japan, South Korea, and the U.S.. To counter this threat, the U.S. has taken steps to reaffirm our commitment to our allies while also enhancing our own military capabilities. Japan and South Korea are in the most danger of a missile attack due to their proximity to North Korea. Although the U.S. has developed systems capable of stopping an intercontinental ballistic missile attack, our allies are not as well equipped and face different types of threats due to closer proximity to North Korea. That is why we have increased the sales of sophisticated missile defense systems to South Korea and Japan. In the face of an erratic North Korea, it is vital that we take these steps to support our allies.

As the threat from North Korea continues to grow, so does the urgency to defend ourselves and support other democratic nations. First and foremost, our military must be ready and prepared. This ensures that we can enter into negotiations from a position of strength, and should a conflict start, we will be able to defend against North Korean aggression. We must also continue to increase the pressure on this rogue state with sanctions. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to develop new sanctions against North Korea and bring them to the negotiating table. However, if negotiations fail, our military and those of our allies must be equipped to respond to the threat.

This editorial was published on November 22, 2017 in RealClearDefense.com 

FAA Letter 

 

In October, I wrote a letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta about the serious problem created by the FAA’s new flight patterns. Last week, Administrator Huerta responded to my letter. In his response, he promised that the FAA is still evaluating the flight pattern issue, and that the agency is looking at adjustments that can address community concerns while still maintaining the effectiveness of the air traffic control system. While this letter does not fully address the concerns of community nor guarantee concrete action, it is an important step in the right direction for the FAA. I will continue to advocate on behalf of mountain residents as we move forward, to make sure that the FAA’s words are translated into meaningful action.

Click here to read FAA Administrator Huerta’s full response.

 

 

Winter Light Parade 

 

Join the Twentynine Palms Chamber of Commerce 20th Annual Winter Light Parade on Tuesday, December 5 at 6:45 p.m. in Veterans Park. 

For more questions email info@29chamber.org or call (760) 367-3445. 

 

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies

 

Town of Apple Valley: 
The Town of Apple Valley will host their Tree Lighting Ceremony on Tuesday, December 5 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Civic Center Park located at 14955 Dale Evans Parkway. 
For more information call (760) 240-7000. 

City of Bishop:
The City of Bishop will host their Christmas parade, tree lighting, and street of lights ceremony on Saturday, December 2. The parade begins at 4:30 p.m. at High Country Lumber and heads north on Main Street, ending at Bishop City Park for the official tree lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. 

City of Hesperia: 
The Hesperia Recreation and Park District with the City of Hesperia invite residents to Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Thursday, December 7 from 4:30 p.m. at Hesperia Civic Plaza Park. The public can enjoy musical entertainment, refreshments, holiday craft, and food vendors. 

City of Victorville:

The City of Victorville will kick off the holiday season with its annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Festival of Lights on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., at Victorville  City Hall located at 14343 Civic Dr.

The community will be treated to an evening of free entertainment including the lighting of the Christmas tree at City Hall and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus.  The Hi Country Harmonaires will set the mood with a selection of Christmas music.  

One and all are invited to come join in this celebration and enjoy the Christmas caroling, seasonal vendors and more. The Christmas tree will be lit at dusk, followed by from the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus.  

For information on participating as a vendor, please contact Hook Community Center at (760) 245-5551.

Christmas Treasure Hunt

 

Desert Christ Park is hosting their 4th Annual Christmas Treasure hunt held on Saturday, December 2 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 56200 Sunnyslope Drive in Yucca Valley. Christmas treasures will be available for children to hunt such as ornaments and toys. Hot cocoa and cookies will be served. 

Holiday Fine Art and Craft Faire

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Knott's Berry Farm

 

Clay Hunt 5k 

 

Join the Clay Hunt 5K walk on Saturday, December 2 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the VA Loma Linda Ambulatory Care Center facility located at 26001 Redlands Blvd in Redlands. 

For more information, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Sent from the Office of U.S. Representative Paul Cook