|Member of the|
U.S. House of Representatives
January 3, 2007
|Constituency||9th district (2007-2013)|
12th district (2013-present)
|Member of the Florida House of Representatives|
from the 48th district
November 3, 1998 - November 7, 2006
|Born||February 8, 1963|
Gainesville, Florida, U.S.
|Education||St. Petersburg College|
University of Florida (BA)
Stetson University (JD)
Gus Michael Bilirakis (born February 8, 1963) is an American politician who has served as the U.S. Representative for Florida's 12th congressional district since January 2007. He is a member of the Republican Party. The district, numbered as the 9th district from 2007 to 2013, includes much of the northern portion of the Tampa Bay Area. He has also served in the Florida House of Representatives.
Bilirakis was born in Gainesville, Florida, and grew up in Tarpon Springs, Florida, the son of Evelyn (née Miaoulis) and Michael Bilirakis. He lives in Palm Harbor and is the grandson of Greek immigrants. His grandfather owned a local bakery where Bilirakis worked from a young age. He attended Tampa Bay area public schools and continued to work in his grandfather's bakery while growing up.
Bilirakis graduated from Tarpon Springs High School and St. Petersburg Junior College. He then attended the University of Florida, where he graduated in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in political science. He received his law degree from the Stetson University College of Law in 1989.
Bilirakis has a Tampa Bay area law practice, the Bilirakis Law Group, specializing in probate and estate planning, which he took over from his father, Michael Bilirakis. His father served in Congress from 1983 to 2007, and Gus helped run his campaigns.
Bilirakis was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1998 when he won the District 48 seat held for 10 years by Representative Sandy Safley, R-Clearwater, who decided not to run again. This district covers most of north Pinellas County, part of Pasco County, and part of Hillsborough County.
During his tenure in Tallahassee (1998-2006), he chaired several prominent panels including Crime Prevention, Public Safety Appropriations, and the Economic Development, Trade, & Banking Committee.
In 2006, Michael Bilirakis announced his retirement after 24 years in Congress, and Gus Bilirakis immediately jumped into the race to succeed his father in what was then the 9th District. He defeated Hillsborough County Commissioner Phyllis Busansky in the general election with 55 percent of the vote to become the district's second representative. He has been reelected three more times with no substantive opposition.
Bilirakis' committee assignments include:
In January 2009, Bilirakis was appointed ranking member on the House Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Management, Investigations and Oversight. In this role he is his party's top congressional watchdog over the United States Department of Homeland Security.
Bilirakis is a member of the Republican Party's Whip Team and is Chair of the Veterans' Affairs Task Force for the Republican Policy Committee. Additionally, Bilirakis serves as a Co-Chair of the Congressional Military Veterans Caucus and the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues.
Bilirakis has led efforts to enhance the United States' visa screening capabilities and has played a key role in efforts to strengthen America's borders; most notably passing legislation to enhance the collection of biometric information from migrants captured at sea who are seeking illegal entry to the United States. He successfully placed legislative initiatives in the 9/11 recommendations bill that was signed into law to increase America's rail and public transportation security.
On April 10, 2014, Bilirakis introduced the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014 Act (H.R. 4450; 113th Congress), a bill that would extend the provisions of the Travel Promotion Act of 2009 (Pub.L. 111-145), which established the Corporation for Travel Promotion (also known as Brand USA), through September 30, 2020, and impose new performance and procurement requirements on the corporation.
On February 11, 2017, Biliarkis hosted a townhall in Pasco County, Florida where he was faced with several protesters angry over the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, when the chairman of the GOP in the county, Bill Akins repeated the now debunked claim that the ACA contains "what is effectively known as death panels." Biliarkis nodded in agreement and later told CNN that "The board exists, OK? And I've voted to repeal the board." Congressman Biliarkis seemed to equate the death panel with the Independent Advisory Board, a 15-member committee that issues recommendations for reducing healthcare costs, subject to congressional oversight and approval.
In early October 2018, Bilirakis released a campaign advertisement touting his work fighting opioids in Pasco County, Floriday. In the advertisement, Bilirakis took credit for a law he did not have a hand in crafting. The 30-second ad flashed text about a "Bilirakis INTERDICT ACT" as Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said Bilirakis is "giving us the tools to do our job and get traffickers off the street." The INTERDICT Act provides funding and equipment to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for detecting imported fentanyl. But Bilirakis was neither a sponsor nor one of 18 co-sponsors, making it unclear how it is the "Bilirakis INTERDICT Act."
From 2015-2016, Bilirakis accepted $2,000 in direct campaign contributions from the NRA's Political Victory Fund; As of 2017, Bilirakis has an "A" rating from the NRA, indicating a voting record that is generally pro-gun rights. As a U. S. Congressman, Bilirakis has voted on several pieces of legislation pertaining to firearms. He supported H. R. 38, which would enable concealed carry reciprocity among all States if and when it is signed into law. In March 2017, Bilirakis voted in favor of the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act, which, if signed into law, would prohibit, in any case arising out of the administration of laws and benefits by the Department of Veterans Affairs, any person who is mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or experiencing an extended loss of consciousness, of the right to receive or transport firearms, without the order or finding of a judicial authority of competent jurisdiction. Following the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, Bilirakis signed a letter written to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives urging them to reevaluate the legal status of bump stocks, though no action has been taken as of March 2018.
In the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018, Bilirakis said that he would be willing to consider gun reform legislation, "if that's what it takes." Bilirakis said that, specifically, he would support more school resource officers in schools. Bilirakis also announced his support for legislation that would "ensur[e] that those who are mentally ill do not have access to weapons."
Bilirakis has four children.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 9th congressional district
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 12th congressional district
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Representatives by seniority