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Keep America Safe
News from Representative Gus Bilirakis
November 22, 2015

#PrayForParis and Protect the U.S.A.


My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of the horrible terrorist attacks in ?Paris. These attacks are a tragic reminder that our fight against terrorism continues and I vow to do what it takes to keep Americans safe.

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives advanced H.R. 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act, to address the issue of our national security. 

This bill prevents admission to the United States of any proposed Syrian or Iraqi 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.

As elected officials, we have the responsibility to do everything we can to protect our nation. The SAFE Act puts in place a robust, extensive vetting and monitoring process to identify individuals who pose a security threat. It fulfills our promise to the American people that we are working diligently to prevent terrorists from reaching our shores.

I also signed a letter to President Obama this week to encourage the administration to immediately suspend refugee admissions until a stronger vetting process is in place.

To further these efforts, I re-introduced the Student Visa Security Improvement Act to further address potential threats to our national security.

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. My legislation will safeguard our universities, communities, and our nation.

This issue is not a partisan one. Our national security is a priority on which we all must agree.

Keeping our PROMISE to our Veterans


This week, I introduced the Promoting Responsible Opioid Management and Incorporating Scientific Expertise Act (PROMISE Act) to help Veterans by promoting safety, patient advocacy, and better access to quality care. 

The House Veterans’ Affairs committee discussed this bill Tuesday as part of our work to improve care for our nation’s heroes.

The PROMISE Act will provide our Veterans safer opioid therapy and pain management, more personalized care to deal with the physical and mental wounds they are facing, and will help improve efficiency at the VA. See what the bill’s bipartisan co-sponsors are saying here.

To further our efforts to help our Veterans, the House Veterans’ Affairs committee held a hearing this Wednesday to review the Choice program and evaluate the VA’s plan to improve care for our Veterans. The Choice program, which was enacted a year ago, was intended to ensure Veterans had better access to care through the use of community providers; however, its implementation has not fully met that intent.

We discussed ways to address challenges in the Choice program, improve the VA, and ensure Veterans are able to receive quality care in a safe, quick, and efficient manner.

Our Veterans have sacrificed so much for our country. It is up to us to provide them with the care they need. We must hold the VA accountable and encourage quality care for our heroes. 

Getting Things Done in DC

This week, the House advanced three Energy and Commerce public health bills to boost mental health care, combat the rise in prenatal opioid abuse, and bring consistency to pharmaceutical reviews while protecting manufacturing jobs.

The Energy and Commerce Committee also sent eight more bills to the House floor to help patients, families, consumers, and communities across the country.

I am proud we have worked together in a bipartisan fashion to further these important measures.

Internship Opportunity 

Are you a college student or recent graduate interested in government? Do you know someone who fits that description?

I’m looking for full and part-time interns for my Washington, D.C. office for the spring semester. A congressional internship provides unparalleled value and insight into the workings of a Capitol Hill office and the legislative process, as well as networking opportunities and exposure to important issues before Congress. While the internship is unpaid, college credit is available.

To apply, please email a current resume, cover letter, and writing sample (500 words) with the subject line “Spring Internship” to 

Humane Association Dinner 


This Thursday, the Humane Bond Caucus that I co-founded held a Humane Table Dinner to recognize those who work hard every day to provide us food to nourish our families.  We recognized farmers and producers who have made the humane choice for their animals, raising their animals under the best conditions possible.

In the late 1800s, the American Humane Association became the first national humane organization, working for the humane treatment of animals. Since then, they have helped enact a number of protections for our country’s farm animals.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, it is important we give thanks to those who provide us with the food on our tables and who do so in a humane way. Thank you to all those who help us celebrate the incredible bond between animals and humans.

No Shave November


I’ve been participating in #NoShaveNovember to raise awareness for cancer this month. It is truly a great cause and this beard has been a great conversation starter, giving me the opportunity to let people know what they can do to help patients and families affected by cancer. The beard itself is getting mixed reviews though. What do YOU think, should I keep this beard going through the holidays? Vote on Twitter and Facebook through November 30th. 

Help me spread the word for patients and families who are struggling with diseases like cancer. Our 21st Century Cures legislation helps bring hope to those who need it most. This legislation will help accelerate the pace of cures and treatments and encourage more research and innovation for the diseases and conditions afflicting our country. Use #Cures2015 and #CuresIn4Words on social media to raise awareness and encourage the Senate to get this done for our families and loved ones.

Our Future Leaders 

After spending a whole week chatting with politicians, bureaucrats, and policy wonks, the best way to end the week was chatting with these exceptional 3rd graders from Sutherland Elementary School in Palm Harbor. These kids are exactly why I work hard every week in DC – to make sure we leave our country in a better state for future generations.  If you would like me to talk to students at a local school, please call Dan Paasch in my office at 727-232-2921 to schedule a visit.

Next Week 

Next week, members of Congress head back home for the district work period and to celebrate Thanksgiving with their loved ones. As we countdown to this wonderful holiday, I am sharing some things I am thankful for on Instagram. Follow along: @GusBilirakis. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving with loved ones and some great food!


Gus Bilirakis


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