Democrats celebrate new Congress, push for action on guns

It was mostly a time for celebration and sentiment on Monday as four members of South Florida held a ceremonial swearing in to mark their new terms in Congress. But there were also some somber moments and serious policy as participants marked the one-month anniversary of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre.

U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, and Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, said curbing gun violence is one of the top issues they hope to tackle. Along with U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, they said they think there is a chance the Republican-controlled House will take up legislation on the issue.

Deutch condemned what he said was the typical reaction that "too many of us have had for years now" that nothing can be done after a major gun tragedy. "That is not something that we can afford to happen this time," he said.

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Miami Democrat who represents part of South Broward, was more skeptical about the prospects for congressional activity. She said it's largely going to be up to state and local governments to take actions to reduce availability and power of guns.

The event was mostly a way for the four Democrats to celebrate the beginning of their terms in front of friends, family and political supporters at the Federal Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.

The audience of 300 learned that when Wasserman Schultz was fresh out of college with her political science degree, she was looking for a job in Tallahassee – and got turned away by Frankel. And Wilson can be tough to live with, according to Frankel (who roomed with her in Tallahassee) and Wasserman Schultz (who roomed with her in Tallahassee and in Washington, D.C.), because she needs so much room to store her trademark hats.

Wasserman Schultz, whose job as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee often has her emphasizing the partisan, praised two Republicans in the audience, Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca and Southwest Ranches Mayor Jeff Nelson, for attending the event.

And there were warm words between Broward Mayor Kristin Jacobs, who acted as emcee, and Frankel: "I am so proud of you, Lois. I am so happy to be with you here today."

Frankel defeated Jacobs in the August 2012 Democratic primary. That was forgotten, at least for Monday, as the two hugged.

The crowd wasn't treated to what would have been the day's best visual, suggested by Frankel. "I'm so excited that I could do a cartwheel, but it wouldn't look good."

Watch video of the festivities at, 954-356-4550

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