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Lois Frankel, Joe Garcia sworn into Congress

WASHINGTON -- Lois Frankel, the former mayor of sunny West Palm Beach, had to buy her first pair of winter boots in decades. Joe Garcia, who represents southern Miami-Dade County and the Keys, found a temporary room at University of Miami President Donna Shalala’s home in Georgetown.

As Garcia and Frankel joined their colleagues being sworn in Thursday, the two newest Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives from South Florida have already found plenty of ways to get comfortable in Washington, D.C.

Both have spent time in Washington before. Frankel attend law school at Georgetown University and Garcia ran the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Minority Impact early in the Obama administration.

And both are ready to make their mark. Frankel, whose district stretches from Riviera Beach in Palm Beach County to Fort Lauderdale and Plantation in Broward County, vows to be a champion at constituent services, as well as fighting for women’s health care issues, Medicare and Social Security. But she also said she sees transportation as her No. 1 area of focus.

She’ll be sitting on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where she hopes to remind fellow members that there are two ports, a railroad, the Intracoastal Waterway and plenty of other transportation needs in her stretch of Florida.

“I think being on the Transportation Committee will allow me to focus on economic issues that are very very important back home,” she said. “These are issues that will drive the economy, that will drive issues back home. If I can’t do my part in giving a boost to the South Florida economy, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a congressperson.”

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