Senate Democrats Wait To Accept Burris
Burris Meets With Reid, Durbin
Wednesday, January 7, 2009 – updated: 11:34 am MST January 7, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Roland Burris will not likely take President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat until a court in Illinois rules on a dispute surrounding his appointment.
While Reid embraced Burris, he said the Senate is awaiting a court ruling in a case that tests whether the signature of the Illinois secretary of state is needed for Burris to take the seat. He suggested that would be a step toward seating Burris.
Burris met with Reid and his lieutenant, Sen. Dick Durbin, in Reid's spacious suite off the Senate floor.
During a news conference, Reid and Durbin indicated they have no problem with Burris as a person, but they want to wait until his appointment is certified by the Illinois secretary of state.
Durbin praised the man and said he hoped the legal matters would be resolved "so we can fill all the vacancies and have a full compliment of the Senate."
Democrats had claimed the appointment was tainted by allegations that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich attempted to sell the seat.
Burris, who was appointed to Obama's Senate seat, marched to the Capitol on Tuesday but was turned away. The secretary of the Senate said Burris' credentials were lacking.
An influential senator broke with her party over whether Burris should be seated. California's Dianne Feinstein said that even a discredited governor like Rod Blagojevich of Illinois retains the power to make the appointment.
Feinstein said Burris has wide-ranging experience and that blocking him would impact appointments made by other governors.
Blagojevich said the allegations against him shouldn't be held against Burris, whom he calls a "good and decent man."
Obama declined Wednesday to support giving his vacated Senate seat to Burris.
Obama told a news conference that the decision on whether to allow Burris to join the Senate is one for the Senate to make.
He said he has known Burris for years and would be happy to "work with him" if he ultimately gets seated but that he can't go further than that.