Congressman Gus Bilirakis speaks to the Rotary Club of Clearwater.
BELLEAIR – U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, talked briefly about the Republican National Convention being held in Tampa and said that he would be working behind the scenes, showing a few of his colleagues some local flavor. Due to district line changes, Bilirakis will not be representing some parts of Clearwater any longer.
However, he assured the Clearwater club that they could always count on him regardless of line change.
As part of his committee involvement in Veterans’ Affairs, Bilirakis is advocating vocational school training for veterans to help them find suitable jobs after service. He also wants to create an environment for small business to expand and grow successfully.
When he spoke of the current healthcare bill, he questioned why employees should be penalized for not providing healthcare insurance.
“We don’t need to pass on debt onto our children,” he said.
When discussing military cutbacks, Bilirakis thinks the MacDill Air Force Base is secure because of the strategic roll they play, but he thought some areas might be affected.
Bilirakis said that he thought Paul Ryan was a good vice presidential choice by Romney.
“Ryan tells you what he thinks rather than what he thinks you want to hear,” he said.
Bilirakis said his biggest frustration is the fact that the parties don’t work together. He said the state agrees on about 90 percent of its issues, while Washington agrees on only about 10 percent.
“For congress to work well, committees must work together,” he said, “I wish our representatives would all follow the Rotary four-way test.”
Bilirakis was asked if he keeps in good physical condition following the Paul Ryan plan. He said that his wife wouldn’t allow him to join the gym because she knows he would not use it.
Mr. Bilirakis was first elected to Congress on Nov. 7, 2006, to represent Florida’s Ninth Congressional District, which includes portions of Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough counties. He is currently serving his third term in the United States House of Representatives.
Bilirakis learned about the importance of public service from his father, Michael Bilirakis, who represented the Ninth District in Congress from 1983 to 2006. Early in his career, Bilirakis volunteered on his father’s congressional campaigns and interned for President Ronald Reagan and the National Republican Congressional Committee. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida in 1986, and doctorate from Stetson University in 1989.
Prior to being elected to Congress, Bilirakis was elected to four terms as a member of the Florida House of Representatives. In Congress, he serves on the Committees on Homeland Security, Veterans’ Affairs and Foreign Affairs. He has been appointed chairman of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communication. He has also been named vice chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, is a member of the Republican Party’s Whip Team, is chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Task Force for the Republican Policy Committee, and is co-chairman of the Military Veterans Caucus.
Bilirakis lives in Palm Harbor with his wife, Eva, and sons Michael, Teddy, Manuel, and Nicholas.