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 seek to hurt us. In December 2010, Gus was named Chairman of the critical Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Subcommittee. As Chairman, Bilirakis' position was vital to the state of Florida, as he oversaw 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 would 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.
During the 111th Congress, Gus served as Ranking Member (Lead Republican) on the important Subcommittee on Management, Investigations and Oversight. In this role, he was his party's top congressional watchdog over the Department of Homeland Security. He also served on the Border, Maritime, and Global Counterterrorism Subcommittee.
The Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act, which was signed into law, 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.
He also has introduced legislation that will help the Coast Guard determine the identity of interdicted aliens so that they are not simply released to continue their illegal and dangerous behavior and ensure that terrorists do not slip through cracks in our border defenses. Gus also introduced a resolution, which the House approved unanimously, which encourages increased maritime domain awareness and highlights a program called America’s Waterway Watch, which serves like a neighborhood watch program for the water. Gus has championed the most important issue to Florida’s port community: ensuring that maritime workers are only required to have a single port access identification card with the most stringent standards possible.
Currently, through his work on the Communications & Technology Committee, the Congressman continues to improve emergency communications systems. He has sponsored multiple pieces of legislation, which have become law, to achieve this goal.
Most recently, Congressman Bilirakis has re-iterated the need for strong support of the law enforcement community. The circumstances of George Floyd’s death helped highlight a number of much needed police reforms. Now more than ever, law enforcement officers, who are placed in harm’s way on a daily basis as they work to keep our community safe, need our support. Congressman Bilirakis is an original cosponsor of the Community Policing Act, which would establish a five-year grant program for local police departments that focuses on increased de-escalation training and community outreach programs to strengthen the relationship between police officers and citizens.
He is also a cosponsor of the JUSTICE Act, which seeks to provide long-term solutions focused on police reform, accountability, and transparency, while also promoting efforts to find solutions to systemic issues affecting people of color. Trust is critical in allowing law enforcement to be protectors of their communities, and this legislation seeks to help restore that trust.
More on Homeland Security
The U.S. House of Representatives today advanced legislation to address the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and the issue of our national security.
H.R. 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act of 2015, prevents admission to the United States of any proposed Syrian or Iraqi refugee, or any proposed refugee, until the nation’s top security officials—the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the FBI, and the Director of National Intelligence— unanimously certify that the individual does not represent a security threat.