Gus Michael Bilirakis(Rep)
Telephone:202-225-5755 (Main phone number)
Telephone:727-216-6495 (Main campaign number)
Birth place:Gainesville, FL
Residence:Palm Harbor, FL
Undergraduate education: University of Florida
Graduate education: Stetson University
Gus Bilirakis was born in Gainesville, Fla., and lives in Palm Harbor. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida and a law degree from Stetson University.
Bilirakis interned in the Reagan White House and was a congressional staffer for former Rep. Don Sundquist, who later served a term as Tennessee's governor. He also served on the staff of the National Republican Congressional Committee and was Pinellas County chairman for Bob Dole's presidential campaign in 1996.
He was elected to the Florida House in 1998.
He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006, replacing his father, former U.S. Rep. Mike Bilirakis, who represented Florida's 9th District for 23 years.
Bilirakis and his wife, Eva, have four sons.
Gus Bilirakis got his start in politics by working in the campaigns of his father, former U.S. Rep. Mike Bilirakis, whom he replaced in Florida's 9th Congressional District in 2006. Due to redistricting following the 2010 census, Biliarakis is running in the redrawn 12th Congressional District in 2012.
In the 112th Congress, Bilirakis served on the Homeland Security, Veterans' Affairs and Foreign Affairs Committees. He chairs the subcommittee on emergency preparedness, response and communication and is vice chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee.
Although he never served in the military, Bilirakis has had a high profile on veterans' issues. He sponsored a provision in the 2012 Honoring America's Veterans Act that requires the Veterans Affairs Department to keep statistics on credit hours, degrees and certificates earned by beneficiaries. He also has sponsored proposals to protect the VA pension plan and limit bonuses paid to top VA employees. He's held a number of ceremonies to belatedly award medals to veterans for service dating back to World War II.
In July 2012, Bilirakis interceded when a VA policy excluded 23 of Florida's 28 community colleges from a job training program for unemployed veterans because they also offer four-year degrees. After Bilirakis complained, the department agreed to allow schools with a limited number of four-year degrees to participate. As a result, all Florida community colleges are eligible.
In his first term, Bilirakis supported legislation enacting recommendations from the 9/11 Commission, which included two measures on rail security that he introduced. He crossed party lines in voting for the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, and he introduced legislation establishing a Department of Justice grant to help states create a so-called Silver Alert system for missing senior citizens.
He was a leading voice in bringing the Republican presidential convention to Tampa in 2012.
Bilirakis voted against the 2009 approximately $800 billion economic stimulus package following his re-election in 2008, saying it did not do enough to create jobs and stimulate the economy. "This so-called stimulus bill is simply a long wish list of big government spending that doesn't meet that standard and will hand a huge 'IOU' to our children and grandchildren," he said.
Bilirakis interned in the Reagan White House before entering Congress and was a congressional staffer for former Rep. Don Sundquist, who later served a term as Tennessee's governor. He also served on the staff of the National Republican Congressional Committee and was Pinellas County chairman for Bob Dole's presidential campaign in 1996.
Bilirakis won a seat in the Florida House in 1998 and served eight years. Although he compiled a conservative Republican voting record, Bilirakis occasionally veered from the party line, most notably in 1999 when he voted against former Gov. Jeb Bush's school voucher program, later found unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court.
Before Bilirakis' father was re-elected to Congress for the 12th time in 2004, he had announced it would be his last term but that he would be supporting his son to succeed him in 2006.
The younger Bilirakis had instant name recognition, even adding his middle name Michael to the ballot to further capitalize on his father.
Committee Assignments: Foreign Affairs; Homeland Security; Veterans' Affairs
American Conservative Union Rating: 76
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 0
Recent winning percentages for office currently held: 71% (2010), 62% (2008), 56% (2006).
(Last updated by Bill Kaczor on August 22, 2012.)