Sunday morning, I had a chance to catch Gus Bilirakis on the weekly Bay News 9 Political Connections digest.
The Tarpon Springs Republican, chatting with host Al Ruechel, touched on what I would easily say is his most significant issues, including problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, co-sponsoring the 21st Century Cures Act, and his vision for 2017.
During the eight-minute segment, viewers could catch a glimpse of three key moments.
“This shouldn’t happen—it’s just an awful thing,” Bilirakis said about the incident at Bay Pines VA where the body of a dead veteran was left unattended and ignored in a shower for nine hours. Staff members were later criticized for attempting to cover up the incident.
“I’ve already demanded information. The Chairman of the VA Committee and myself are demanding all the information [from VA Secretary Robert McDonald], and we’re not going to let this go.”
Bilirakis added: “We need to fix the VA and terminate bad employees,” saying he filed legislation with the committee chair and other members to “make sure VA employees are held accountable.”
“Fire them if they’re not doing their job,” he said. “That’s not happening enough.”
On his co-sponsorship of the 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law last week: “It was a grassroots effort. We had roundtables here — the first roundtables occurred here in the district, in Hillsborough County — and I led that effort. We’re finding cures and treatments for individuals.
“Of course, we need more research and that’s why we boosted the NIH.”
Looking forward to 2017, Bilirakis said he believes there is an opportunity to cooperate and “get things done.”
“It takes both parties to get a good bill through,” he said. “That’s why Obamacare failed, because we didn’t have the input we should’ve had … I think there will be more governing, and I’m very hopeful.”
In case you missed it this weekend, the full interview is also available on YouTube.