Burris determined to take Senate seat today
Blagojevich appointee arrives on Capitol Hill, heads to private meeting
WASHINGTON – Barack Obama’s appointed successor is heading to the Senate to be sworn in as a member of the 111th Congress, but it isn’t clear whether he’ll get to take the oath of office.
That wasn’t stopping Roland Burris, who was in tense negotiations at mid-morning Tuesday with Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer.
Burris arrived on Capitol Hill in late morning and was escorted to the secretary of the Senate’s office — but no further. He also was expected to hold a news conference.
“I’m presenting myself as the legally appointed senator from the state of Illinois. It is my hope and prayer that they recognize that the appointment is legal,” the 71-year-old said earlier in a nationally broadcast interview.
Burris, a former Illinois attorney general, dismissed the Senate Democratic leadership’s position that he cannot be seated because he was appointed by a governor accused in a criminal complaint of trying to benefit financially from his authority to fill the seat that Obama vacated after winning the presidential election.
Burriss said his belief is that his appointment is constitutional and that “I have no knowledge of where a secretary of state has veto power over a governor carrying out his constitutional duties.”
‘Nothing wrong with Roland Burris’
Burris also maintained on CBS’s “The Early Show” that the announcement by Gov. Rod Blagojevich Monday of a date for an election for a successor to Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., proves the governor still has legal authority to carry out his duties. Emanuel will be Obama’s White House chief of staff.
“There’s nothing wrong with Roland Burris and there’s nothing wrong with the appointment,” Burris said.
Burris has found little support among fellow Democrats
The Senate was scheduled to convene at noon Tuesday with its newest members. Yet the controversy over the appointment and the ongoing dispute over election results in Minnesota practically guaranteed that both seats would remain empty by day’s end.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday that Burris would not be permitted to take his seat because Burris “has not been certified by the state of Illinois,” a reference to incomplete paperwork that only touches on the dispute. Senate Democrats maintain that Burris’ appointment is tainted because of the charges against Blagojevich.
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