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Dade lands the Democratic heavyweights - and a scolding from Hastings

Miami-Dade county commissioners are in DC again this week, seeking federal dollars for the airport, the seaport and MetroRail.

Federal officials are warning it will be a tight budget year, but the delegation did score some high-level speakers at lunch: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who has Miami ties: he attended Coconut Grove elementary and Coral Gables high school.

They all noted they were spurred to attend by Reps. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, loyal Pelosi lieutenants.

Pelosi sat next to commissioner Sally Heyman , a situation that Wasserman Schultz, who roomed with Heyman when the two were legislators in Tallahassee, said she found troubling as Pelosi and Heyman chatted, and laughed.

"Thanks to all the commissioners with stories to tell," Pelosi quipped when she stood up to address the group.

Wasserman Schultz said she's encouraged the Broward County Commission to "mirror and mimic" Dade's lobbying effort, which she credited with putting local issues front and center on legislators' agendas.

"I said 'Broward you better get your butts up here,' " she said to laughter. 

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, left them speechless. He exoriated the commission - which met with federal transportation officials in the morning to ask for money for Metrorail - for spending money on a baseball stadium, rather than transportation.

"You build a stadium, I'll go to a baseball game," Hastings said. "But why isn't some of that money going to transportation. Somewhere along the line that has to change."

As the commissioners sat in a stunned silence, Hastings made his exit.

"If I made you all mad, that's deliberate," he said just before scooting out the door.

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