Senate Democrats plan to accept Roland Burris for Obama’s vacant seat, AP reports.
Blagojevich shocked Democratic leaders by appointing Burris to finish the final two years of Obama’s six-year term in the Senate just three weeks after the governor was arrested on corruption charges in what federal prosecutors said was a scheme to sell or trade Obama’s vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder,
Blagojevich denies the accusations and has yet to be indicted. There has been no indication that Burris was involved in the alleged scheme, and he has not been accused of any wrongdoing. Democrats have repeatedly said the issue is Blagojevich, not Burris’ qualifications.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Rules Committee, told reporters Tuesday evening that Burris should be seated.
“If you don’t seat Mr. Burris, it has ramifications for gubernatorial appointments all over America,” the California Democrat said. “Mr. Burris is a senior, experienced politician. He has been attorney general, he has been controller, and he is very well-respected. I am hopeful that this will be settled.”
In a piece of political theater, Burris, 71, tried and failed Tuesday to take Obama’s seat.
He marched into the Capitol, declaring himself “the junior senator from the state of Illinois,” and asked Secretary of the Senate Nancy Erickson to accept a certification of his appointment signed by Blagojevich. Erickson refused, saying it lacked Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s signature and the state seal.
White has refused to sign the appointment letter that Blagojevich gave to Burris, saying he won’t sign onto any such decision by a governor under legal siege.
White said Wednesday says he’s being unfairly blamed by senators for not seating Burris, saying Burris could have been accepted there without his signature, calling that “mostly ceremonial.”
And in Chicago, Burris’ attorneys asked the Illinois Supreme Court on Tuesday to expedite a hearing on their petition for a court order directing White to certify his appointment.
Burris also was considering a federal lawsuit to force Senate Democrats to seat him.
“Our credentials were rejected by the secretary of the Senate,” said Timothy W. Wright III, an attorney for Burris. “We were not allowed to be placed in the record book. We were not allowed to proceed to the floor for purposes of taking oath. All of which we think was improperly done and is against the law of this land.”