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AHI Congratulates Congressman Gus Bilirakis
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: C. Franciscos Economides
February 4, 2009—No. 10 (202) 785-8430

AHI Congratulates Congressman Gus Bilirakis

WASHINGTON, DC—The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) congratulates Congressman Gus Bilirakis for being named the Republican top congressional watchdog by being picked to be the ranking member on the House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Management, Investigations, and Oversight. AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis said, “In such a short time on Capitol Hill, Congressman Gus Bilirakis has displayed exceptional leadership, knowledge and understanding of the workings of Congress. He has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to serving the people of his district and the interest of the people of the U.S. Understandably, this has not gone unnoticed by the leadership of his party that has appointed him to this very important position.”

Below please see attached article from the Office of Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis, 02-03-09:

WASHINGTON—U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Florida has been picked to be his party's top congressional watchdog over the Department of Homeland Security.

Bilirakis is to be named Wednesday as the ranking Republican on the Democratic-controlled House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Management, Investigations, and Oversight. 

“Not flashy,” said Bilirakis, of the subcommittee. But important, he said, in terms of the nation’s security. 

In his new role, Bilirakis will investigate and report on the department's border security, anti-terrorism and disaster-response efforts, contracting and purchasing decisions, and its personnel, management and labor issues.

In short, Bilirakis’ job will be trying to keep tabs—as a member of the smaller, opposition party in Congress—on whether the department under the administration of President Barack Obama is operating as efficiently and effectively as possible. 

The massive department headed by newly confirmed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano includes the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Secret Service, Coast Guard, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Bilirakis, who is from Palm Harbor, Fla., will lead two other Republicans on the investigations and oversight subcommittee, which will have about six Democrats. 

It is one of six subpanels of the overall Homeland Security Committee, controlled by Democrats, 21 seats to 13 seats.

The overall committee is chaired by Democrat Bennie Thompson of Mississippi. The top Republican on the overall committee is Peter King of New York, who picked Bilirakis to lead the party’s team on the oversight subpanel.

Why Bilirakis? 

His ascension may have been helped by the fewer Republican seats in the House because of election defeats and retirements. But King doesn’t mention that.

Said King: “In his two years on the committee, Gus has impressed me with his dedication to put in the time and really get the job done…”

“He's the right guy to keep a close eye on the Department of Homeland Security in this critical time of transition and he’ll help guide some important bills in the coming years,” added King. “Gus will also provide great perspective as the only member on the Committee from Florida—a state with a lot of critical infrastructure, the Port of Tampa being just one example.”

Bilirakis won’t get a lot of additional staff help in his new role.

King will assign a Republican committee staff member to help Bilirakis in his subcommittee work. The congressman will also rely on input from his own legislative director.

Bilirakis doesn’t see the job as that of a Republican attack dog, but rather, more of a watchdog. He says he gets along with committee members from both parties, and that nation’s security is too important for “partisan” fighting.

Reporter Billy House can be reached at bhouse@mediageneral.com or at 1 (202) 662-7673.

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For additional information, please contact C. Franciscos Economides at (202) 785-8430 or at pr@ahiworld.org. For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.