Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, got a green light Thursday for his suggestion that Republicans and Democrats should split the job of chairing the Florida congressional delegation: he and Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, will share the honor.
But Republicans and Democrats alike appeared to balk at Hastings' suggestion that the delegation hire two staffers to help it keep track of legislation important to Florida. He suggested each of the 25 members could kick in about $3,000 from their congressional allowances and he offered to give up to $10,000.
"We need to kick it up in this delegation in a way that will help the state of Florida," said Hastings. "We ought to come in line with this century."
Rep. John Mica, R-Orlando, though, pleaded poverty, and few members took Hastings up on his offer.
Instead, they liked a suggestion by Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, to see if one of Florida's universities would send up an unpaid intern to help.
A peeved Hastings suggested the penny pinchers were "shortchanging the state of Florida" for what he called "chump change."
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, however, suggested it's best if members talk amongst themselves.
"We're already staff dependent," Diaz-Balart said. "I don't want to lose us getting together, talking among ourselves."
The delegation did embrace Hastings' idea of creating a website for the delegation "as a more creative way to communicate" with constituents, said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, who got credit for the idea until she set the record straight.
"The website was Alcee's idea," she said.