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Cole Remembers September 11, 2001

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Norman, OK – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) remembered the tragedy of September 11, 2001, when planes were hijacked by terrorists and crashed into the World Trade Centers in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and in a field near Stonycreek Township, Pennsylvania.

“It is hard to believe nineteen years have passed since the despicable terrorist attacks that senselessly claimed precious lives and sought to shatter our sense of safety and security,” said Cole. “Our nation will forever mourn the Americans whose lives were prematurely and viciously taken on September 11, 2001, and we will always remember the numerous heroes who arose in the aftermath of the crisis.

“Though our nation was shaken and heartbroken, we were not destroyed and we were not intimidated. Indeed, Americans quickly proved the power of our strength, resilience and resolve. We showed the world that, even on one of our darkest days, we will always unite and always prevail. Certainly, it is that same American spirit that will help see us through this coronavirus crisis as well.”

Vaccines Save Lives

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The month of August marks National Immunization Awareness Month, which is a very timely subject considering the unprecedented circumstances we are facing in the world right now. For decades, communities around the globe have relied on vaccinations and immunizations to protect us from dangerous, deadly diseases. This month, it is important to remember that vaccines not only protect you, they also protect at-risk individuals around you and ultimately save lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccines and immunizations prove to be one of the most cost-effective, life-saving treatments for diseases. In fact, as reported by the Adult Vaccine Access Coalition (AVAC), the United States each year spends an astonishing $26.5 billion treating four major vaccine preventable diseases: influenza, pneumococcal, shingles and pertussis. Before the coronavirus pandemic, AVAC also noted that, over 20 years, vaccines would prevent 732,000 deaths and 21 million hospitalizations.

As the former Chairman and current Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), I have always supported incremental funding increases for the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Gradual base increases go toward support of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, which facilitates increasing vaccination rates for over a dozen vaccine-preventable diseases, as well as vaccinations for at-risk populations. It also strengthens state public health infrastructure and increases disease surveillance efforts.

To slow the spread of coronavirus, the development of a vaccine to treat COVID-19 is crucial, and I am proud this is being taken seriously in our country. This spring, the NIH formed a public-private partnership called Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) to coordinate and prioritize research efforts into the most promising therapeutics and vaccines. Moreover, HHS has invested more than $7 billion into facilitating research and development for more than five vaccine candidates by leading pharmaceutical companies.

In mid-May, President Trump initiated Operation Warp Speed, a partnership with HHS, the Department of Defense and private pharmaceutical companies to ensure the United States is the first nation in the world to develop and deploy a coronavirus vaccine. This operation seeks to quickly produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines nationwide by January 2021. It’s worth noting that Operation Warp Speed has resulted in the pre-purchase of hundreds of millions of doses should vaccine candidates prove successful.

Throughout the course of history, vaccines have proven to prevent diseases and serious illnesses, and the coronavirus pandemic proves no different. Although this process doesn’t happen overnight, we have certainly made the investments and have the resources to develop and administer a coronavirus vaccine once discovered. However, this pandemic also reaffirms the importance of investing in pandemic programs to ensure we can develop, test and stockpile immunizations for the next generation.

Cole Statement on Honoring John Lewis at U.S. Capitol

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Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) issued the following statement after he paid tribute to Congressman John Lewis, who recently passed away and is lying in state at the U.S. Capitol.  

“Today, I joined my fellow members of Congress in paying my respects to our beloved colleague, John Lewis, upon his final trip to the U.S. Capitol. It was a very moving ceremony that rightly recognized John’s many years of distinguished service and his significant contributions to our country, including his unmatched leadership role in the continual struggle for civil rights. I will always have the utmost admiration for John Lewis, and I am exceedingly grateful that I had the opportunity to serve with him for many years and call him my friend. While the nation mourns and pays tribute on this very sad day, we should also find great comfort as we remember the incredible legacy he leaves behind. Indeed, that legacy will live on for generations to come.”

Resilience Amid Crisis​

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This year, Independence Day comes at a time of great crisis and unrest for our country. But while the events of our day are troubling, remember that our nation was first born out of and found its footing in crisis. Throughout our great history spanning nearly 245 years, Americans have continually overcome even the most difficult challenges. That’s because Americans always rise to the occasion, proving our nation’s great strength. Certainly, that enduring strength and unbeatable resilience is alive as we navigate this season of crisis as well.

While the battle against coronavirus is far from over, it is encouraging to see the economy beginning to bounce back and Americans safely getting back to work. Moreover, rapid progress continues in development of effective therapeutics and discovery of a vaccine. And though any life lost to COVID-19 is too many, the declining death rate should lend hope that we’re getting better at treating the disease – as scientists and researchers race to find a life-saving vaccine.

In addition to the coronavirus crisis, the nation is also facing a difficult reckoning related to racial injustice following the tragic death of George Floyd. This has rightly spurred on an important dialogue and caused an outcry for change echoing far and wide. While there are differences in opinion on the needed solutions, it’s worth recognizing the goal is the same – and that is to make our communities safer for all, regardless of color or creed. While I am disappointed that we haven’t made much bipartisan progress on this issue yet, I am encouraged that serious legislative proposals have been put forward in both chambers of Congress. Moreover, President Trump issued an executive order to encourage meaningful policing reforms.

As we confront the difficulties and seek to reconcile divisions before us, remember that there is far more that unites us than divides us. On the Fourth of July, as we celebrate our precious freedoms secured at a great price, may we also remember the lasting legacy of our inherited American strength. For even amid the direst circumstances, we still live in the greatest and most resilient nation on earth.

Tom Cole Wins Oklahoma’s Fourth District Republican Primary

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Moore, OK – Tom Cole released the following statement upon winning the June 30th primary election:

“I thank the Republican voters of the Fourth District for once again nominating me to represent them as their candidate for Congress in the November general election. It is an honor and a privilege to represent the Fourth District of Oklahoma and fight for our shared values and interests in the House of Representatives. I look forward to making my case for re-election to the entire electorate in the fall campaign.

“I am proud of my record of significant accomplishments in Congress. Working in a bipartisan and bicameral fashion, I have helped to deliver the largest pay raise to our men and women in uniform in a decade, expand missions at Fort Sill and Tinker Air Force Base, deliver much needed assistance to families and businesses during the Coronavirus crisis and save an estimated 50 million jobs through the Paycheck Protection Program. I have also been a leader in securing funds for biomedical research to find cures and treatments for deadly diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s and pandemic flu. And I have established a reputation for being a strong advocate for the interests of veterans, federal workers, agriculture, energy and Native American nations and tribal governments. 

“I look forward to keeping in touch with the constituents I am privileged to represent in the coming months, discussing my record of results and my plans for tackling the important work that lies ahead.”

Cole Announces Congressional App Challenge for OK-04

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Moore, OK – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) today encouraged middle school and high school students in the Fourth District of Oklahoma to participate in this year’s Congressional App Challenge. This annual competition is designed to promote innovation, engagement and excellence in computer science through student development of an application (“app”).

“The Congressional App Challenge is a fantastic way for students to explore and sharpen their coding and computer-based skills, which could prepare them for potential careers in STEM fields. As this unique challenge gets underway, I look forward to seeing the ideas and creativity of Fourth District students.”

While participating students are encouraged to register online by September 10, the final deadline for entries is 12:00 p.m. on October 19, 2020. Fourth District entries will be judged and selected by a local panel of relevant experts.

The submissions portal is now open and students can register to participate at www.congressionalappchallenge.us. Questions can be directed toStudentSupport@CongressionalAppChallenge.us or by calling Cole’s office at 405-329-6500.

Background on the Congressional App Challenge

Launched by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2015, this national contest invites students to create an application (“app”) for desktop/PC, web, tablet, mobile, raspberry Pi or other devices using any programming language – such as C, C++, Java, JavaScript, Python, Ruby or “block code.” The competition is open to all students who meet the eligibility requirements, regardless of their coding experience. Winning apps from congressional districts across the country are eligible for display in the U.S. Capitol and featured on the House of Representatives’ website at House.gov

More information is available at www.congressionalappchallenge.us.

Cole Congratulates 2020 Service Academy Appointees

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Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) this week congratulated nine students who received and accepted appointments to attend one of the United States military service academies. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy all require a congressional nomination to be considered for appointment. Cole previously nominated these students for appointment consideration in December.

“I am very proud to congratulate and extend my best wishes to nine phenomenal Fourth District students, who have accepted appointments to attend one of America’s prestigious military service academies,” said Cole. “These exceptional young leaders could pursue numerous career paths, yet they nobly and selflessly chose to answer the call to serve our nation with their talents and intelligence. I was honored to play a small part in their journey by nominating each of them for potential appointment. As they embark on a new chapter in their lives this fall, I know they will continue to make their families, communities and our state incredibly proud.”

The students from the Fourth District of Oklahoma who received and accepted appointments are listed below:

U.S. Military Academy at West Point

Heyward Hutson, Cache – Cache High School

Joseph Kelly, Lawton – Eisenhower High School

Bryson Stricker, Ardmore – Plainview High School

U.S. Naval Academy

Kirby Snow, Sulphur – Sulphur High School

Trace Stewart, Marietta – Marietta High School

Brody Sturges, Noble – Noble High School

U.S. Air Force Academy

Dalton Carson, Ada – Ada High School

Sydney Gunter, Lawton – MacArthur High School

Samuel Jun, Oklahoma City – Casady School*

*Note: Samuel Jun was also offered an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.

Cole Announces Reelection Campaign

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Moore, OK – Tom Cole formally announced today that he will seek reelection to represent the Fourth District of Oklahoma in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“We are living in unprecedented times, and together, we are travelling uncharted waters. But America has seen and conquered greater challenges, and I know that we will win this battle as well,” stated Cole.  “From those on the front lines, to those doing their part by staying at home, Americans and Oklahomans will band together and see this through.

“Today’s challenges require strong and unwavering leadership that is always looking forward and preparing,” said Cole. “In representing the people of the Fourth District, I have proudly fought to protect and advance commonsense conservative values while also ensuring that we are investing in the future and are ready to face challenges, both foreign and domestic, and both man-made and natural.

“Prioritizing funding for biomedical disease research and readiness is one of the most important investments we can make in our collective future. Over the last five years, I have proudly championed and helped secure historic increases for the National Institutes of Health. In the last couple of years and long before the world heard of COVID-19, I was proud to lead the effort to establish the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund – an emergency fund that I proposed to immediately respond to dangerous infectious diseases like Ebola, Zika and COVID-19. Certainly, when we prioritize the public health, we can be better prepared for the future – and healthier and safer for it.

“In recent days and in response to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic and its spread in the United States, I was proud to stand with the Trump Administration in supporting aid to help Americans weather the storm. This includes more resources for state and local governments, tribal governments, small business owners, front-line health care workers and hardworking Americans to fight this disease.

“While our focus is rightfully on the pandemic, we cannot rest on other areas of preparedness. Whether it is responding to national security threats at home or abroad, there is no doubt that our military is in a stronger place today than it was just a few years ago. Along with President Trump, I was proud to help deliver the largest pay increase to our military men and women in a decade, increased funding for invaluable missions at Fort Sill Army Post and Tinker Air Force Base and continued support for the modernization of our military.

“While I am proud of my record, there is still important work ahead,” continued Cole. “I am running for re-election to build on the significant strides taken and to usher in solutions that help Americans and our economy recover from the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, further support and strengthen our military’s readiness and capabilities, and help set future generations on firm financial footing.

“It is a great honor to represent the people of the Fourth District. I look forward to being of service, earning the vote over the coming months and continuing to fight for our conservative ideals and principles.”

Cole Applauds Full-Year Government Funding for FY 2020

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Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), Vice Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, released the following statement after President Donald Trump last night signed into law two full-year government funding packages for fiscal year 2020. The two packages include all 12 appropriations bills, which cover annual operations across the entirety of the federal government.

“One of the most fundamental duties of Congress is to fund the government and to keep it open and operational. By coming to bipartisan agreement on full-year appropriations, I am very proud that lawmakers in both chambers not only prevented a government shutdown, but they avoided the need for another short-term continuing resolution. I applaud President Trump for signing these critical packages into law, responsibly providing certainty for the federal government and the thousands of supporting federal workers.”  

Earlier this week, Cole made extensive remarks in support of the funding packages on the House floor. Video is available here

Cole also explained the importance of funding with full-year appropriations, instead of continuing resolutions, in a recent column here.

Honoring the Bravest Among Us

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Each year on the eleventh of November, we rightly pause to honor and remember the bravery and boldness of the men and women who selflessly answered the call of duty and wore one of the many great military uniforms of the United States of America. Without question, we owe a constant debt of gratitude to generations of veterans, including many of our own family members, who made sacrifices to ensure the safety of our homeland and who faithfully fought to promote and preserve America’s precious freedoms. 

On Veterans Day, I am certainly reflecting on the military service rendered by my own relatives. Each day, I am reminded of my namesake and late uncle Tom’s tremendous courage and sacrifice. A prisoner of war during World War II, he was forced to walk the infamous Bataan Death March, and he was held in the Japanese prison camps of Cabanatuan in the Philippines and Hanawa on the main island of Japan. He kept a booklet with the names of the brave men that he met in the prison camps because he never wanted to forget those with whom he served. I was honored to be given his little book after he passed away, and I keep it in my DC office alongside several photos of him, including a picture that was taken of him and his brothers in arms on the day Hanawa was liberated. 

I am also always thinking of my father, who I greatly admired while I was growing up in a military family. My dad joined the Army Air Corps on the eve of World War II, and when he left the service, he was the second most senior master sergeant in the Air Force and generally recognized as one of the best to run a crew (or dock) that fixed airplanes. He was an amazingly talented mechanic and won the prize for “dock of the month” so many times at McGuire Air Force Base that they quit giving it out. When he was placed at Dover Air Force Base for his last command, he was given the worst dock assignment and still managed to win the same award seven out of 12 times there—another testament to his impressive skill. Following his retirement in 1960, our family returned to Oklahoma, where my dad served another 20 years as a civilian defense worker at Tinker Air Force Base.

My uncle and my dad were not the only people in my family who served. My grandfather on my mom’s side retired as a naval captain and fought in several engagements in the Pacific. My brother served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War era. And my favorite cousin retired as an Air Force lieutenant colonel after serving in Iraq.

Of course, in a sense, the families of all these brave men served, too. They supported them when they deployed. Spouses missed anniversaries, children missed birthdays and all were sometimes separated and worried over Thanksgivings and Christmases. But they never wavered in supporting their family member in uniform. Millions of other families are making those same sacrifices today, so each of us can enjoy the upcoming holidays in peace, security and freedom.

Just as stories of military service and heroism are numerous within our families, so too is the current population of veterans in communities across the nation. According to the Census Bureau, there are more than 21.3 million civilian veterans living in the United States, including more than 67,000 in the Fourth District of Oklahoma. As a grateful nation, we have a solemn duty to these veteran heroes, including many who sustained life-altering injuries fighting for the cause of freedom.

It is indeed right to set aside one day each year to recognize America’s veterans, but we can rightly honor their sacrifices every day of the year by ensuring they receive their earned benefits. Unfortunately, there are still too many instances of our veterans not getting adequate care or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system not meeting their needs. While I was encouraged that Congress came together last year to address some of the issues, efforts must continue to keep the VA accountable and ensure promises made to our veterans are always kept. And I remain committed to finding solutions to improve the care and benefits received by our veterans.

If you are a veteran and have experienced problems related to your earned benefits, please contact my Norman office at (405) 329-6500, so my staff can help you get answers.