U.S. Congressman Tom Cole | E-Newsletter
WEEKLY UPDATE | May 7, 2020 Click here if you have trouble viewing this email
U.S. Congressman Tom Cole
While I returned to Washington this week for official business in one of my subcommittees, the same could not be said for the majority of members serving in the People's House – even though the United States Senate managed to return for session and conduct business for the American people. I think Speaker Pelosi and House Democratic leadership's decision not to call members back during such a critical time for our nation was a mistake.

Even amid a pandemic, I believe both chambers of Congress are capable of operating in person albeit with appropriate adjustments and precautions. If the White House can continue to go to work every day for the American people and the U.S. Senate can return for session this week, members of the People's House can and should also be physically present in Washington for their essential work. The fact that my House Appropriations Subcommittee could successfully conduct an in-person hearing on the federal response to coronavirus this week shows it is possible to conduct critical business.

During this challenging time for our country, we are asking a lot of other people out there to go to work – from doctors and nurses on the front lines risking their own lives to treat patients, to truck drivers transporting and making critical deliveries, to farmers and ranchers monitoring our food supply, to food processing and meat packing plant and grocery store workers who are making sure we all have the ability to eat, to our service members who are still in the field protecting us. Indeed, if all of those Americans and many others can take on the risk and go to work, the Senate can go to work and the Trump Administration can continue to be at work every day, there's no excuse for members of the House of Representatives.

Yesterday, I joined Chuck Todd on MSNBC's Meet the Press Daily to discuss safely bringing members back to do their work. You can watch our conversation here.

Earlier this week, I joined Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Administration Committee Ranking Republican Rodney Davis in unveiling a plan that would enable the House to safely and fully perform its key functions for the American people without sacrificing more than 230 years of tradition and constitutional precedent. Read our plan here.  

Coronavirus Relief for Indian Country
Earlier this week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced a path forward for getting billions of dollars of federal aid allocated and swiftly sent to tribal nations.  

I am sincerely grateful for the Trump Administration’s special attention to the unique challenges facing Indian Country during this coronavirus crisis and for working hard to get desperately needed funding out the door to tribal partners. While continuing their essential government functions, tribes have also been faced with lost revenue from their enterprises and industries that normally generates the income to support their governments and health care systems. As our nation’s tribes continue their fierce fight against coronavirus, receipt of this money is critical reinforcement and will greatly help tribal communities.

I am particularly pleased to learn that Oklahoma’s tribal nations will receive a generous portion of the money now making its way to Indian Country. Oklahoma is home to 39 sovereign tribes, and each one plays an invaluable role in the lives and health of their members and surrounding communities. While there are still unknown challenges ahead, I am encouraged and relieved that tribal nations are now more adequately equipped to face and fight this terrible disease.

Being Ready for Severe Weather
Oklahomans are no strangers to severe weather and the terrible destruction that can result from it. Our past experiences serve as a sobering reminder that we must be ready at a moment’s notice to face tornadoes and other unpredictable weather patterns. In Oklahoma, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” that time will come.

While we always hope and pray that our communities will be spared from the destructive wrath of severe weather, we also must proceed with caution knowing that this time of year usually marks a season of frequent storms. Remember, it was sadly in the month of May that my hometown of Moore was ruthlessly beat down by tornadoes in a matter of minutes – on May 3, 1999, as well as on May 20, 2013. Unfortunately, severe storms this year have already caused devastating damage and heartbreaking loss of life in areas of our state and in many other southern states. As we ride out this mysterious season of nature with the added challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more critical that all Oklahomans take time to review their emergency response plans and build readiness kits. And if you don’t have something like this prepared, now is the time to act.  
First and foremost, it is important to know what to do when a dangerous storm hits. Whether you’re at home, at work or on the road, always be aware of where and when to take shelter in case of an emergency. Heed the warnings and direction issued by storm trackers at the National Weather Service, by local meteorologists and your community’s dedicated emergency management team. If you are at home during a tornado warning in your area, seek shelter in your basement, safe room or an interior room away from windows. If you are driving in or near the path of a storm, do not attempt to outrun it in a vehicle and do not hide under an overpass or a bridge. Find a low, flat location and cover your head and neck with your arms. If you have a blanket or coat available, wrap yourself up. To receive real time alerts from the National Weather Service, safety tips and help finding safety shelters and disaster recovery centers, download the mobile app available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): fema.gov/mobile-app

For important resources, helpful tips and printable templates for building an emergency plan and supply kit, I highly recommend visiting Ready.gov/plan. For safety and response guidance specific to tornadoes, I suggest you also review the resources provided by the National Weather Service at weather.gov/safety/tornado. Your family or household’s response strategy should always include a physical communications plan with contact information and meeting places. If members of your family happen to be in different locations during severe weather or any sort of emergency, this is vital to getting in contact and safely reuniting with your loved ones. At minimum, a supply kit should include water, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, flashlights and spare batteries. These items can be indispensable during and in the aftermath of a storm.

While the mood of the weather is out of our control, at least we can be sure of our response to its potential severity when we have a plan in place. Indeed, our collective preparedness is key to keeping our communities safe in the event of intense storms.

Stay Informed 
While social distancing prevents us all from interacting in person, there are several ways I am aiming to keep you informed. I am regularly filming video updates for social media, hosting telephone town halls and participating in virtual meetings reaching Fourth District communities. In addition, I am keeping my website up to date on the latest federal actions taken and resources available in response to the disruptions caused by the spread of this coronavirus. You can also call my office at (405) 329-6500.

If you have additional questions or need assistance with another matter, my staff can help you with that, too. 

Tom Cole
Member of Congress


As I've done during the last several weeks, I will be hosting more telephone town halls in the coming days. If you would like to participate in a future conversation, please stay tuned for dates and dial-in information or sign up to be called HERE. 
The annual Congressional Art Competition for high school students is still taking place, and my office is accepting entries. Please note that the deadline for entries has been extended to Friday, May 22, 2020.

While all three of my district offices remain drop-off points for submitting artwork, please provide advance notice and schedule time to ensure a member of my staff is there to assist you at a safe distance. The Ardmore Chamber of Commerce remains open and continues to serve as a drop-off point as well.

To schedule a drop-off time and place, please call my office: (405) 329-6500

Very moved to see the Fourth District community of Norman come together THREE times last week to bring joy to our veterans. Because of the social distancing precautions necessary during this pandemic, many families haven't been able to see their vulnerable loved ones staying at the Norman Veterans Center for quite some time. This didn't stop hundreds of people on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from showing up in their vehicles at a safe distance, driving by and waving at their family and friends at the center. What a special way to show much deserved admiration, respect and love to our amazing veterans.
Read more

Thank you to former President Bush for this inspiring message. We have indeed faced times of testing before, and we have come together to triumphantly rise as one nation. The same American spirit of service, compassion and sacrifice is alive among us now.
I will regularly be updating my website with new information and resources here: cole.house.gov/coronavirus 
Click around below to read or see more
Rep. Cole on News 9: "We're asking a lot of other people right now"
(May 1, 2020)

Members of Congress Request USDA’s Findings of Beef Pricing Investigation
(May 1, 2020)

Cole Joins Bipartisan Efforts to Support Local News Amid Coronavirus
(April 30, 2020)

Washington, DC Office
2207 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-6165
Fax: (202) 225-3512
Ada Office
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Ada, OK 74820
Phone: (580) 436-5375
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Phone: (405) 329-6500
Fax: (405) 321-7369