BioGUS M. BILIRAKIS, Republican from Palm Harbor, was first elected to Congress on November 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.
Born on February 8, 1963, Gus learned about the importance of public service early in his life from his father, Michael Bilirakis, who represented the Ninth District in Congress from 1983 to 2006. The elder Bilirakis also instilled in his son pride in his family heritage and civic-mindedness, both of which Gus proudly exhibits today.
Early in his career, Gus volunteered on his father’s congressional campaigns, interned for President Ronald Reagan and the National Republican Congressional Committee, and worked for former U.S. Representative Don Sundquist (R-TN). Gus earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida in 1986, and a J.D. from Stetson University in 1989. Gus then was a Senior Partner at the Bilirakis Law Group in Holiday, Florida, specializing in wills, trusts, and estate planning. He also taught government classes at St. Petersburg College.
Prior to being elected to Congress, Gus was overwhelmingly elected to four terms as a member of the Florida House of Representatives. 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, gaining valuable expertise that benefits his constituents today. He quickly became known as a consensus-builder who worked across party lines for the common good, as well as for focusing on constituent service and being accessible to those he represented, traits he continues in Congress.
Also while in Tallahassee, Gus won bipartisan acclaim for being fair and accomplishing his key priorities. His leadership resulted in laws to make communities safer, improve transportation, reform government, recognize the sacrifices of America’s veterans, and expand the role that community health centers play in making health care more available to lower-income individuals.
In Congress, Gus works in a similar bipartisan manner to control federal spending, make government smaller and smarter, strengthen homeland security, lower taxes, improve education, increase access to quality health care, protect veterans’ benefits, and ensure the long-term viability of Social Security and Medicare.
His bipartisan work has also helped him to pass many of his own legislative initiatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. Gus has led efforts to enhance our nation’s 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 has also successfully placed legislative initiatives in the 9/11 recommendations bill that was signed into law to increase our nation's rail and public transportation security.
Gus currently serves on the Committees on Homeland Security, Veterans’ Affairs and Foreign Affairs. Gus has been appointed Chairman of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communication, a vital post for the state of Florida. In this role he will oversee the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and will work to enhance emergency preparedness across the nation. He has also been named Vice Chairman of the Veteran’s Affairs Committee, where he will advocate for veterans and oversee the Department of Veterans Affairs. Additionally, Gus 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.
Gus lives in Palm Harbor with his wife, Eva, and sons Michael, Teddy, Manuel, and Nicholas.