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Burris Will Press To Be Seated in Senate

by Perry Bacon, Jr.

Roland Burris, the man pick by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to take Barack Obama's Senate seat, is signaling a defiant tone as the Senate puts up more roadblocks to his appointment.

A few hours after the Senate declined to formally approve the certificate of appointment from the governor's office because the Illinois secretary of state refuses to sign it, Burris said he planned to arrive in Washington Monday afternoon and tell Democratic leaders "I'm here to take my seat."

"I am the junior senator according to every law book in the nation," Burris told reporters Monday afternoon at Chicago's Midway Airport, where he planned to board a flight to Washington.

Burris aides had signaled in the recent days the former Illinois attorney general would take a cautious approach to seeking the appointment, but his comments suggested he would sharply press his case. Senate Democrats and President-elect Barack Obama have opposed Burris taking the seat, arguing any appointment by Blagojevich is tainted because of corruption allegations against the governor that include him allegedly looking to sell the seat to the highest bidder.

Blagojevich's acting chief of staff Clayton Harris personally flew to Washington early Monday to deliver the certificate of appointment, but Nancy Erickson, the secretary of the Senate who was appointed yesterday by Senate Democratic leaders, and a Senate parliamentarian said they would not formally accept the document because Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White had not signed it. Burris has already filed a motion asking the Illinois Supreme Court to compel White to approve the appointment.

Rodell Mollineau, a spokesman for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that without that certificate, it was unlikely Burris' appointment could go to the floor to voted on by the full Senate. Even if a court does force White to sign the document, the Senate is likely to object to the Burris' appointment and investigate it through the Senate Rules Committee, blocking Burris from taking the seat.

But Burris is looking to compel the Senate to accept him through public browbeating. His aides now refer to him as "Senator Burris" and he has declared that the scandal involving Blagojevich has nothing to do with him. At a rally of his supporters Sunday night in Chicago, he said "we are hoping and praying that they will not be able to deny what the Lord has ordained."

In Washington, Burris is scheduled to meet with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday and press to be seated, but he has not said how he will handle Tuesday's swearing in of new members of the Senate, which Democratic leaders have said will not include him.

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), have said Burris should get the seat, but the group has not pressed Reid to seat Burris, who would replace Obama as the only African-American member of the Senate.

By Paul Volpe  |  January 5, 2009; 5:07 PM ET
Categories:  Blagojevich , Senate  
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I have been watching this for about a week and cannot figure out why Burris should not be seated -- okay let them bury Blago with whatever they have on him -- but with all the media speculation, I would just figure that Burris seems to be as stated "not tainted" and if he becomes a place holder -- or decides to go on -- the Democrats have a junior senator, he is African American and in two years they can get themselves a new governor, house member and senate member or stay with Burris, let's see what he does while there -- Chicago politics or not -- it is probably the best way forward at this point and then maybe the press can go back to serious business.
Mr. Burris seems more adept at handling the press than Caroline Kennedy and although I respect the Kennedy family; my thinking here is that it should have been Bobby or that she should become an ambassador. Not that she isn't capable; but the public scrutiny is obnoxious!!

Posted by: paulet | January 5, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

It is pretty obvious that Blago tried to sell this seat. Which begs, the question, why would Burris accept this appointment considering the controversy? He may have a very stellar record, but accepting this nomination and being so adamant about being sat calls into question his integrity. He should be a lot more humble about this whole process.

Posted by: Spiritus_Brutus | January 5, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Who is Harry Reid to say, who is sent by any state to Washington D.C. Is he so CLEAN. If we knew the truths about donations to any member of Congress, mosst of them would be gone.

Posted by: Larry1041st | January 5, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Bill Clinton didn't stop being President simply because he was charged with stuff. The Illinois legislature did not want an election, so, according to the constitution, the Governor picks. Blags is still the governor, so he gets a pick. I bet that if Blags told Reid when Reid called him, that Blags would pick whoever Reid said to pick, that that pick would be seated.

So, this is really about Reid getting ticked off that he can't have his pick. The laws involved and the SCOTUS decision involved is not on Reids side, but he doesn't care.

He is setting a terrible precedent that the Senate leader can refuse to seat anyone he doesn't want to seat, regardless of the legality of the choice made.

Posted by: kamdog | January 5, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

so, in an nutshell.. the democrats under president elect obama, who have REPEATEDLY stated these past two years that they would CHANGE washington.. get RID OF THE PARTISAN POLITICS... are denying burris the senator's seat? (which by the way is flagrantly against illinois law in how they are doing it)


pretty impressive committment to the policy of "change".

what's next?

will the democrats burn the constitution and "CHANGE" it to their own version?

Posted by: DriveByPoster | January 5, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Now, if the "next" governor, in a few months, appoints someone different, they can fight it out in court for another 9 months as to who is the real senator.

Posted by: georgejones5 | January 5, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

The Dems are so much fun to watch. Let's get a campaign going...Seat Burris Now!

Posted by: PalmSpringsGirl | January 5, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Wake up Dude there is no way these Hypocrites can seat Frankel but not Burris. And they ahey are determined to seat Frankel.

Obama and his Senate lackies did nothing but trap themelves saying they would not seat Burris. They will just as soon as the Illinois Sec. of State is forced to sign his confirmation by the Courts later this week.

We are alredy seeing evidence these guys think they are smarter then they are and that spells trouble for the new Obama Administration.

Posted by: IMAH1 | January 5, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Burris should not be seated because his appointment is a farcical travesty. When Gov. Blagojecvich was arrested and accused of trying to sell this very seat, everyone in Illinois agreed that he had forfeited the chance to make a valid pick. And that includes Roland Burris, who weeks ago stated, unequivocally, that what Blagojevich was accused of doing was wrong and that any pick he made would be tainted.

It's worth noting how poorly Burris has handled this. That's a very negative reflection on how he would act as a Senator. Burris knew, before he accepted, that Reid and Obama were both opposed to Blagojevich naming anyone. Burris knew that Blagojevich had tried to select others first and been rebuffed. He's failed his last four attempts at statewide office, and he would never have won the seat in a fair election. In trying to justify this complete about-face, he immediately resorted to ugly racial politics. His power-hungry antics are a disgrace to him and to Illinois (not easy to do).

If Burris wants to be Senator let him do it honestly. Let Lt. Gov. Quinn appoint him. Let the legislature recommend him. Let him win a special election. I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: simpleton1 | January 5, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Now, if the "next" governor, in a few months, appoints someone different, they can fight it out in court for another 9 months as to who is the real senator.

Posted by: georgejones5 | January 5, 2009 7:26 PM
The Supreme Court in Marbury v Madison has already decided that case. It ruled that once an authorized appointment is made, neither the current administration, nor any successor administration can rescind it, making the appointment valid through the term authorized by the vacancy. Blago has legally conferred the appointment. Burris is the junior senator from Illinois.

Posted by: infuse | January 5, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

"At a rally of his supporters Sunday night in Chicago, he said "we are hoping and praying that they will not be able to deny what the Lord has ordained.""

What?! What?! What?!

Posted by: samrosenbaum | January 5, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

How strange!

The execrable and unfit Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich, has (under some minor duress) appointed a perfectly appropriate bench warmer to the United States Senate. (Apparently Illinois has no suitable daughters of former presidents.)

Now Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White, refuses to certify a statutory appointment made by a sitting governor.

With what legal authority? If this is not in itself an impeachable offense, what is? What in Illinois constitutes abuse of office?

Oops. Silly question. I used to live there.

Posted by: wgmadden | January 5, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the Democrats have a leg to stand on. Blagojevich has yet to be charged with a crime (and the way this hapless prosecutor is bungling this case, probably never will be). The Illinois Supreme Court has declined to judge him as unfit for office, the bumbling prosecutor prematurely shot his wad and now can't make his case, and the Illinois legislature can't impeach him. There is only one conclusion: as the sitting, legal Governor of Illinois, Blagojevich has the right to choose his own replacement, and neither hell, high water, or the U.S. Senate can stop him.

As a diehard Democrat, I think the position of the leadership is ridiculous and counterproductive. Here's hoping Mr. Burris takes his case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary...

Posted by: jerkhoff | January 5, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I'm for good, clean government and people like Blagojevich make me sick - but, let's follow the law, people. What the hell are Obama and Reid thinking? Self inflicted wounds...

Posted by: johnsonc2 | January 5, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Hasn't anyone else noted that Roland Burris has an uncanny resemblance to Cab Calloway? Cab's biggest hit was Minnie the Moocher -- appropriate for Blagojevich?

Posted by: jdrd58 | January 6, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

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This organization has the ability, resources, and policy-makers to suppress the threat of global poverty by enacting legislation here in the US, which is tied to the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals. Please support organizations such as The Borgen Project so that we may rid the world of poverty.

Posted by: atsegga | January 6, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

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