Recovering From The Covid Crisis
Families and businesses across the country are hurting in the wake of the COVID-19 economic crisis. Gus knows that we need real, long term solutions to help get our economy and our way of life back on track.
Gus voted for the CARES Act to ensure families and small businesses received relief when they needed it most. Now, Gus supports the House Republican plan to stabilize spending and incentive Americans to return back to work.
Seniors are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 complications. That’s why Gus will fight to ensure that as soon as an approved vaccine is available, senior citizens will be first in line to receive the treatment.
Congressman Bilirakis has been a long-time proponent of the public education system, both in the Florida Legislature and now in Congress. As a father of four boys, all of whom graduated from or currently attend public school, he understands the link between a robust public education system and a vital and thriving nation.
Bilirakis has supported legislation to increase access to higher education by raising the maximum Pell Grant (federal assistance that deserving students do not have to repay) award. Congressman Bilirakis also has voted to improve the Head Start program to help close the learning gap between children from disadvantaged families and their more well-off peers. In the 113th Congress, Bilirakis supported legislation, which is now law, to help make college more affordable by permanently reducing interest rates on federally-subsidized student loans. He also voted in favor of legislation that would return the control of the public school system to localities, by empowering teachers, families, and local school boards.
Congressman Bilirakis firmly supports an “all of the above” energy strategy that includes increasing domestic production, providing incentives for the development of renewable resources, and promoting conservation. New and emerging technologies will allow the United States to better harness the existing swath of renewable and nonrenewable energy sources that are available.
Representative Bilirakis is a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has jurisdiction over federal energy policy. He intends to use this position to work in a bipartisan fashion to eliminate barriers to domestic energy production to encourage economic growth. He is also a cosponsor of legislation to build the Keystone Pipeline – an instant boost to domestic energy production that will create tens of thousands of jobs in areas where job opportunities are scarce.
Gus Bilirakis has tackled the issue of rising flood insurance rates head on, and he has the record to prove it.
Prior to the introduction of H.R. 3370, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013, Congressman Bilirakis introduced the Homeowners Flood Insurance Relief Act, to substantively address the flood insurance rate increase. He heard from my constituents, and was involved in this process from the beginning. Representative Bilirakis was proud to be part of the core group of bipartisan legislators who worked with Majority Leader Cantor to get H.R. 3370 passed in the House of Representatives.
H.R. 3370 includes common-sense reforms that not only continue the intent of the NFIP – to protect homeowners from devastating floods – but also ensures the program is able to cover its costs. It is important to stress that the reforms made to the NFIP were not intended to cause the dramatic increases that homeowners are currently experiencing.
As a former member of the House Committee on Foreign affairs and current member of the Caucus on International Religious Freedom, Congressman Bilirakis’ desire to support our allies, protect religious freedom, and prevent attacks from our enemies have kept him apprised of major world events.
As the grandson of Greek immigrants, Bilirakis is heavily invested in Hellenic affairs. The region is vital to American interests, and Greece is a strong ally of the United States. He is the Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Affairs and the founding Co-Chair of the Congressional Hellenic Israel Alliance. Israel is a strategic ally in the region as well, sharing a common defense strategy with the United States, Greece, Cyprus, and other allies to thwart existential threats from bad actors in the region. In an increasingly connected world, it is important to recognize that upheaval and unrest in the Middle East can have ripples that echo across the Atlantic. American interests must be protected at all cost, and Congressman Bilirakis embraces the opportunity to work with world leaders to ensure a peaceful future in the Middle East and at home.
In the 113th Congressman Bilirakis joined the Energy and Commerce Committee. Part of his Committee assignment includes serving on the Health Subcommittee, with jurisdiction over Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act – better known as Obamacare – and the rest of the American health care system.
Congressman Bilirakis has introduced two pieces of legislation to help preserve Medicare for current and future beneficiaries. H.R. 3392, the Medicare Part D Patient Safety and Drug Abuse Prevention Act, would establish a Safe Pharmacy Access Program, to prevent high-risk beneficiaries from abusing controlled substances. This is a cost-saving measure utilized by private industry, TRICARE, and state Medicaid programs. H.R. 2828, the Medicare Abuse Prevention (MAP) Act, would remove Social Security Numbers from Medicare cards and strengthens the civil and criminal penalties for Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP abuse. It would also incentivize states to conduct their own prescription drug monitoring programs.
Bilirakis is a staunch opponent of Obamacare. He opposed the legislation when it passed in 2009, and has worked to repeal and replace the law. Bilirakis supports the infusion of free market principles and cost transparency into the health care system, which he believes is the best way to lower costs and increase access to affordable care.
Additionally, Congressman Bilirakis is a member of numerous health care-related caucuses through which he advocates for many important causes, including the:
Congressman Bilirakis sought a seat on the Homeland Security Committee shortly after his election to Congress because few issues are as important as defending America’s citizens from those who want to hurt them.
In December 2010, Gus was named Chairman of the critical Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Subcommittee. As Chairman, Bilirakis' position is vital to the state of Florida, as he oversees FEMA, emergency grant programs, communication during emergency situations, and disaster response and recovery efforts.
In March 2011, Gus introduced the Student Visa Security Improvement Act, which will improve the background checks conducted on student visa applicants from high-risk areas and enhance America's ability to ensure that foreign students are abiding by the terms of their visas once in the U.S. He has also introduced the Metropolitan Medical Response System Program Act of 2011, H.R. 1411, to assist state and local governments in preparing for and responding to mass casualty incidents resulting from acts of terrorism, natural disasters, and other emergencies.
The Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act includes two proposals sponsored by Congressman Bilirakis. First, ensuring that rail and mass transit security coordinators are American citizens and requiring the real-world testing of rail tank cars carrying hazardous materials to determine the way to best protect them from attack.
Social Security and Medicare must remain fiscally solvent to ensure retirement security for current seniors, our children and grandchildren. However, Social Security has been operating at a deficit since 2010. Unless Social Security is modernized and strengthened, these deficits may cause the annual cost-of-living adjustments to shrink or disappear entirely in the future. Representative Bilirakis strongly believes that Congress must make serious fiscal reforms to ensure our financial stability while still ensuring that we uphold the commitments we have made to our seniors. He is absolutely opposed to legislation that will cut Social Security for seniors in order to pay for overseas operations, health care for others or any other program.
Congressman Bilirakis also supports the Medicare program. Medicare is extremely important to seniors, and arguably the most popular aspects of the program – Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D – operate successfully because of free market principles. Medicare also needs to ensure its fiscal viability for current and future beneficiaries.
Gus has introduced two major pieces of legislation to protect Medicare, and save money within the program without impacting benefits or beneficiaries. H.R. 3392, the Medicare Part D Patient Safety and Drug Abuse Prevention Act, would establish a Safe Pharmacy Access Program, to prevent high-risk beneficiaries from abusing controlled substances. This is a cost-saving measure utilized by private industry, TRICARE, and state Medicaid programs. H.R. 2828, the Medicare Abuse Prevention (MAP) Act, would remove Social Security Numbers from Medicare cards and strengthens the civil and criminal penalties for Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP abuse. It would also incentivize states to conduct their own prescription drug monitoring programs.
Gus introduced H.R. 2330, the bi-partisan Medicare Audiology Services Enhancement Act, which clarifies current Medicare rules to expand access to audiology services for seniors who are hearing impaired.
Congressman Bilirakis specifically requested a seat on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs because of his commitment to advocate on behalf of veterans and their families in the United States Congress. He has worked throughout his tenure in Congress to ensure veterans receive quality and timely services while promoting transparency throughout the VA.
In the 112th Congress, Bilirakis championed two pieces of legislation that were signed into law. The first, H.R. 4057, the Improving Transparency of Education Opportunities for Veterans Act – introduced by Bilirakis – directed the VA to develop a comprehensive policy to improve outreach and transparency to veterans and members of the Armed Forces by providing information on institutions of higher learning. The second, S. 3202, the Dignified Burial of Veterans Act, included language from the House companion bill offered by Bilirakis. S. 3202 requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide caskets or urns for veterans with no next of kin and insufficient resources to cover burial and funeral expenses.
In addition, Congressman Bilirakis is fighting to bring additional health care resources to Florida and the Twelfth Congressional District. Since coming to Congress, he has worked with local and national VA officials to expand the Pasco County VA Outpatient Clinic and bring additional health care services, such as dental care and mental health services, to area veterans. He also has visited the James Haley VA Medical Center (VAMC), meeting with the medical center staff and veterans to discuss the care and services provided at the VAMC.
As a member of the Veterans’ Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA), Bilirakis has also toured the VA Regional Office and met with VA officials to discuss veterans’ claims processing issues. He is working with his Subcommittee colleagues to improve the claims processing system to reduce the claims backlog and shorten response times. Too many veterans wait too long for care, and too many find the appeals process onerous. Reducing the claims backlog and providing veterans with timely and quality access to care is a top priority for Congressman Bilirakis.
Millions of Floridians are suffering as a result of the opioid epidemic. Gus is working to combat this by supporting grants that help fund educational programs, treatment centers, law enforcement resources, physician training, among other strategies.
Rebuilding our Military
In the Constitution, Congress is tasked with the responsibility to raise and support our country’s national defense. Congressman Bilirakis is proud to support our nation’s women and men in uniform and understands the importance of providing our brave men and women of the Armed Forces with the resources they need, and to ensure the Department of Defense (DOD) has the ability to develop new technologies and maintain existing infrastructures to meet those emerging threats. He is a member of the:
- Anti-terrorism Caucus
- Coast Guard Caucus
- Mobility Air Forces Caucus
- National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus
- United Services Organization (USO) Caucus
- Co-Chair of the Military Veterans Caucus
Gus believes our country does not do enough to address mental illness, and he is working to fix it. In Congress, Gus is seeking to improve access to care and support systems which enable those suffering from mental illness to become active members of our community.
Congressman Bilirakis strongly opposes illegal immigration but, as a grandchild of Greek immigrants, he recognizes the cultural, intellectual, and economic benefit of legal, law-abiding immigrants. He does not believe we should provide amnesty or reward those who have broken our nation’s immigration laws. Doing so simply encourages continued law-breaking and greater illegal immigration in the future. He knows that effective immigration control requires strong border enforcement and visa enforcement – nearly half of all illegal immigrants are visa overstays, not individuals who cross the border. Bilirakis recognizes the need to eliminate the incentives that encourage individuals to come here illegally, by reforming immigration process in such a way that rewards legal immigration and punishes those who break the law.
Bilirakis introduced the Student Visa Security Improvement Act, which would ensure the United States properly vets potential students before they are granted visas for admission and would ensure they abide by the terms of that visa. Gus also has cosponsored legislation to prevent states from issuing driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, eliminate the visa lottery, and clarify that the Administration should rigorously enforce current immigration laws.
Gus supports President Trump’s plan to build a wall on our Southern border.
Government doesn’t create jobs, small businesses do. Gus is working hard to cut taxes and eliminate frivolous regulations that hold businesses back, and will always support legislation that brings jobs back to our community.
Budget and Taxes
Our nation is threatened by a debt crisis that has been caused by unrestrained federal deficits that if unchecked, will threaten economic prosperity and job growth. If we do not take action now, then we risk becoming the first generation to leave our country worse off for our children and grandchildren. Congressman Bilirakis believes that we must implement serious spending reforms to restore the fiscal credibility of the United States at home and in the global market. During these difficult economic times, Americans have had to spend less, and the federal government should do likewise.
Congressman Bilirakis supports reforming the tax code, which will eliminate a barrier to economic growth for everyone. The federal tax code has grown far too complicated for individuals and small businesses. It now contains approximately 4 million words; almost triple the number from just ten years ago. He supports tax reform that makes the tax code simpler and fairer for everyone, which will free capital, increase investment, and lead to more jobs for Americans.
Gus has a proven record fighting to keep our communities safe. He is ardently pro-law enforcement and supports legislation such as Kate’s Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act to keep law-abiding residents safe.