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Congressman Gus Bilirakis

Representing the 12th District of Florida

Keeping You Safe

July 28, 2016
Bilirakis Blog

Now more than ever before, we need to work together to ensure the safety, security and long term success of our nation. I am proud to join my colleagues in the House in an effort to prioritize the things that truly matter. We are tackling the issues together to keep us safe, boost our economy, reform our health care, improve our tax code, fight poverty, and get back to our founding fathers’ vision.

Lately, the headlines have been shocking, sad stories of hate. Our nation faces many threats, both here and abroad, and my top priority has always been to keep us safe. If we are not safe, nothing else matters, and I am dedicated to improving our national security to ensure our families, loved ones, and communities live in peace.

In order to ensure our safety, we must address every aspect of the issue, every threat, and future threats as best we can.

Radical Islamic extremism must be vanquished. This can only happen with a fully funded military that is given the tools and resources it needs, coupled with rules of engagement that allow for a clear path to victory. in the fight against terrorists. I am proud Congress advanced legislation to help support our U.S. military by giving them the required assets they need to keep us safe.

The National Defense Authorization Act and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, will provide necessary funding, improve oversight efforts, and utilize taxpayer dollars efficiently and responsibly. This legislation is crucial in restoring strength and readiness to America's Armed Forces.

We must also work with our allies to take down terror organizations wreaking havoc across the world. I recently joined my colleagues to introduce a resolution urging the European Union to designate the entirety of Hizballah as a terrorist organization, and increase pressure on its members. Hizballah is an Iranian-backed terrorist organization with a global reach that engages in significant illicit criminal activity to fund terrorism. We must do all we can to rein in Hizballah's dangerous worldwide bad acts; and once the EU recognizes them as a terrorist organization, it will allow us to collaborate and share more intelligence information to track and defeat them.

Second, we must protect our homeland by keeping those who wish to do us harm out of America. This must begin with securing our borders. In order to address potential threats to our national security, I introduced the Student Visa Security Improvement Act. This legislation will safeguard our universities, communities, and our nation. It is clear there are significant gaps and vulnerabilities that must be addressed in our student visa program. This important measure would ensure foreign students and exchange visitors enter the country for legitimate purposes. It would provide additional scrutiny for applicants, and put mechanisms into place to ensure students are attending classes in which they are enrolled. We must be able to track all visa visitors, including foreign students, and ensure they are in this country for their intended purpose rather than nefarious activity against U.S. citizens.

Third, we must ensure our nation is ready to address future threats. One growing threat concerns cyber security on both a national level and personal level. I have continued working to address this issue, especially for our nation’s seniors. Keeping our personal data safe is crucial, and I have joined my Energy and Commerce committee colleagues in doing so. We continue to work with cyber security experts, law enforcement, and stakeholders to give individuals and families the ability to better protect themselves and provide help in instances of hacking. On a larger scale, legislation Congress advanced earlier this year to support our military will help fund research, innovation, and modernization to keep our national security efforts up to date.

I am also proud to have worked on legislation to improve public alerts and warning systems. The Integrated Public Alert Warning System (or IPAWS) Modernization Act, will update our communications infrastructure, and help disseminate important alerts instantaneously over cell phones, text messaging, the Internet, and broadcasting. Modernizing our alert and warning capabilities is essential to keep us safe. We must effectively communicate important information to the public during national emergencies, and our warning efforts must evolve with the growing and emerging threats of today.

Finally, we must restore our influence abroad. Our national security is directly affected by the security of our allies and the world around us. I will make sure our country is ready to tackle the threats of our time and beyond so we may restore freedom and security at home and abroad. We must defend our freedoms and ensure each and every citizen is safe and secure to pursue their dreams.

To read the blog on Medium, click here