December 31st, 2008
12:25 PM ET
9 years ago

Senate Dems crafting new plans to block Burris appointment

Reid and other congressional Democratic leaders have said they will block the seating of any Blagojevich appointment.

Reid and other congressional Democratic leaders have said they will block the seating of any Blagojevich appointment.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democratic leaders are devising a plan to block the appointment of Roland Burris to the Senate for weeks in hopes it will prevent Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich from deciding who fills the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, a Senate Democratic leadership aide told CNN Wednesday.

The aide also rebuffed suggestions by constitutional law experts that the Senate cannot block Blagojevich’s appointment of Burris on the basis that “anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois,” as the top five Democrats in the Senate asserted Tuesday in a statement. Blagojevich is facing criminal corruption charges in Illinois.

“He will not be seated,” said the Senate leadership aide, who insisted Burris will not be allowed on the Senate floor, nor will he be granted a Capitol Hill office, should he show up for the opening day of Congress next Tuesday.

According to the aide, Senate Democratic leadership staffers have been poring over Illinois case law since Tuesday evening, trying to determine if the Burris appointment can proceed if Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White refuses to sign off on it, as White has threatened.

If it is determined the lack of White’s signature will not impede Burris’s appointment, Democrats are prepared to file a motion to refer Burris’s appointment to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, the committee that credentials members of the Senate, the aide said, adding the motion could be debated and amended.

The process could take weeks and might buy Senate Democrats time if Illinois Lt.. Governor Pat Quinn is able to succeed Blagojevich and pull Burris’ appointment before it becomes final, assuming Blagojevich is forced from office or resigns before the Senate Rules Committee determines Burris’s status. The Senate aide acknowledged Senate Democrats are not sure if Quinn would have that authority.

Filed under: Harry Reid • Senate
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Carter

    I am long time Democrat. However, I have a feeling that within four years, the Democrats will be in the same position as the Republicans find themselves right now. And I guess that the really sad part of it is that the Democrats have been there before, because prior to Bush's last term and the economic woes, the Republicans were popular and invincible. But I guess that power is intoxicating. You would think that the Democrats would have learned their lessons. It appears that they didn't. This entire issue with the Illinois Governor is a bit much. As an attorney, the alleged evidence doesn't really establish a conspiracy. I don't believe the Governor has even been indicated yet. Furthermore, we all agree that Mr. Burris has nothing to do with the Governor’s alleged problems and that Mr. Burris has a long resume of public service, which means that he more than meets the minimum requirements (age, U.S. residency for at least 9 years and state residency) for a Senator. This entire claim about the "appearance of impropriety" is a farce. That concept of “appearance of impropriety” is as amorphous as it is arbitrary and capricious. Look the sitting Senators’ long standing relationships with lobbyist for the current companies they allege to regulate appears to be an “appearance of impropriety” but those Senators say they aren’t. I don't even think the Senators know what the "appearance of impropriety" really means. I believe that they think that it means "opportunity".

    December 31, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  2. free blago

    I hope that Burris is intelligent enough to realize that he is being used by Blago as a distraction from his own problems. That entire press conference Tuesday was a sham. The people of Illinois deserve better.

    December 31, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. harry's cat

    This is a political landmine. If the senate accepts Blago's appointment, they will be giving hime political credibility. If they deny his appointment, they will be racists. Hmmm... what to do?....

    December 31, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. Danny

    Sen. Reid, along with every other sitting U.S. Senator, took an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. That Constitution is very clear in allowing the Governor of any state to appoint a temporary Senator to fill a vacancy, until a special election can be held. Like it or not, crook or not, Mr. Blagojevich is the sitting Governor of the state of Illinois and, absent a resolution to the contrary by the state Legislature, has the right and the duty to make this appointment.

    It also says that "no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate." So , if the IL Secretary of State does sign off on the appointment (thus affirming the state's consent), the Senate leadership has no right to deny Mr. Burris his seat in the Senate.

    My personal hope is that Secretary White listens to the apparent will of the people of the state, and follows through with his threat to refuse to affirm the appointment. But the Constitution is clear, and unless some disqualifying factor on Mr. Burris's part is found, no member or group of members of the Congress has any say in the matter.


    December 31, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  5. amt

    Burris has not done anything wrong. Blago has not done anything wrong, he may be obnoxious & brazen but that is not a crime, he's still the Gov & has the power to appoint, Reid is wrong, Blago has'nt been convicted of anything, there are other politicians that are not squeaky clean either & they are still in power.

    December 31, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  6. chuck

    I won't believe it until I see the Senate majority stand up to this charade of race baiting. This is just the sort of thing that they will cave in on. Blagojevich knew they would quiver and blink twice if he appointed an African American. Blago is playing his few remaining cards just right. Only problem is that a 71 year old black man with a distorted moral compas will be caught in the headlights and brought way down into political nowhere land. I will have a new respect for the Senate if they do what they said they would do and deny an appointment by the tainted Blagojevich.

    December 31, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  7. KQ

    Reid doesn't have the constitutional authority to block the appointment. Illinois should have acted quicker on the impeachment and conviction of Gov. Blagojevich to prevent this mess. Reid and the Dems should read the Constitution.

    December 31, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  8. America loses, Barack wins for now.

    Harry get used to it. We are about to have four to eight years of corruption ala Chicago style politics courtesy of the Obama team.

    Change we so desperately need, that along with huge tax increases, safer world (NOT) with his style of kumbaya negotiations with Iran, Palestinians, Russia and others. I think he will say things like Rodney King did, Why can't we all just be friends, and be shocked when they don't buy his brand of kool-aid.

    December 31, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  9. NY republican

    Why is Mr. Burris being punished for what "Blago" ALLEGEDLY did? I always thought better of the democrat party.

    December 31, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  10. Precious

    And what would the topic and discussion be, if the Illinois Governor had pick someone from the PE Obama's list?

    Would we say that it is was a good pick because PE Obama has good judgment, and because of his good judgment in choice, the Gov. could not have made a tainted choice. PE Obama sat in a church which many disapprove of for 20 years, but we hold the opinion that the Reverend words were not those of the President Elect? If a father commits a crime, does that taint his son/daughter future who is doing good in his/her life. Why should we decides someone's future based on someone else's mistake. I believe we were told not to "judge" one another.

    December 31, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Once you vote Black

    I am sure if Blago picked a white guy they would seat him. They are just trying to keep a brother down. Once Obama got out they thought they could keep it... well you know.

    December 31, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  12. Tommy


    Reid and the rest of the Senate chamber have no authority anymore to prevent Burris from taking his seat.

    As the user below me mentioned, the Illinois legislature should have acted quicker to remove Blagojevich from his position in order to inhibit him from making any sort of appointment. They did not do this, however; thus, the United States Constitution cannot be circumvented. Please read the first comment for this article. The Constitution is very clear.

    December 31, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  13. LGriff

    Break the constitution when it satisfy you and that goes for anyone else who believes the appointee or appointer was wrong. Harry and the other folks are mad because Blago did not do what they wanted him to do. I'm sure if Blago felt he was doing something wrong he would have not done this. This man knows his rights and Harry and the gang needs to acknowledge this. The same goes for Prez elect BO.

    December 31, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  14. Suzi

    The corruption charges involved with the selection of the senate seat didn't have anything to do with Burris, it was Blagojevich, but now Burris has sadly put himself in the middle of it. What in the world was he thinking?

    Fitzgerald has asked for an extension on the indictment of Blagojevich because so many new witnesses are coming forward. It's not going to be pretty and now Burris has become a part of it.

    Reid and Jesse White are following the law. I applaud Reid and the others for working to keep this mess confined to Illinois and Blagojevich's office. Let Fitzgerald clean up the mess - he's known for being tough and effective, taking on high-profile cases involving the mafia as well as both Democrats and Republicans.

    It's unbelievable that Blagojevich would do this to the country at this time. What a jerk.

    December 31, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  15. gt

    get em Harry ....stand up for what s right and dont give in

    December 31, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |






    December 31, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  17. Rick

    Reid should be more concerned about where the real crime is taking place........Minnesota.

    December 31, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  18. Voter

    Harry Reid and the Democratic leadership are such jerks.

    December 31, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  19. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    They just don't want him because he is black. Just kidding.

    December 31, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  20. Lawrence in Denver

    Many of you don't know what you're talking about. Well, more in a hypocritical sense. The odd thing is I agree with what you all have to say.

    Half of you say the dems in the Senate should block this appointment and that actions of impeachment should have been done quicker.

    The other half of you say that Reid and the senate doesn't have the constitutional authority to block the appointment.

    The half that says the Senate and Reid should be doing something to block this should know that the Senate doesn't have this authority. Until convicted, Blagojevich would still have the power to appoint someone to the vacant Senate seat. The odd thing is you people should know this and yet are coming down on the Senate for this.

    The other half that says the Senate doesn't have the authority to do this, I agree with you because it is fact. But you are the same half that, if the Senate doesn't make an 'attempt' to block the appointment, would be coming down on Reid and the Senate Dems for just sitting around doing nothing.

    So both groups want something that can or can't be done but cry wolf and complain about it regardless.

    Where do i stand? Burris shouldn't accept the appointment. But on the same note if he knows he is innocent and has no ties to the scandal then you know what, accept the appointment!

    ~Lawrence in Denver

    December 31, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  21. R- U- AWARE!!!

    KQ December 31st, 2008 2:35 pm ET
    Reid doesn't have the constitutional authority to block the appointment. Illinois should have acted quicker on the impeachment and conviction of Gov. Blagojevich to prevent this mess. Reid and the Dems should read the Constitution.***DITTO!!!!

    December 31, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  22. Craig in Washington

    A few points:
    1) The Constitution says Blagojevich is innocent until proven guilty. He hasn't even been tried yet. Have you people forgotten this?
    2) The Governor is the one who nominates replacement candidates. Not the Senate Majority Leader. And governors generally nominate someone who reflects the views of the person they are replacing.
    3) Harry Reid is NOT from Illinois and has no say in the nomination process.
    4) If Blagojevich is removed from office, the Lt. Governor takes over.

    I agree that Blagojevich is quite premature with his nomination and feel he has been extremely arrogant. But he has not been convicted of any crime, as yet.

    December 31, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  23. Mike O'Brien

    I understand Senator Harry Reid's position on Governor Rod Blagojevich pick for Senator of Illinois. However, I belive that Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to be a 'honest, honourable man with integrity'. I belive that Roland Burris should have 'turned-down' the domination for the Senate seat for the great state of Illinois. In protest to Governor Rod Blagojevich. The great people of the state of Illinois should 'vote' and pick the next Senator of Illinois to the United States Senate.., 'not'.., Governor Rod Blagojevich. Governor Rod Blagojevich and his 'big mouth' wife should 'resign'. Let the people of Illinois.., choose the next Senator from the great state of Illinois for the nex two years. Not, Governor Rod Blagojevich.., who has 'disgraced' the state of Illinois.

    December 31, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  24. GuyInVA

    Being fairly conservative, I never thought I'd say this, but GIVE 'EM HELL HARRY!

    December 31, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. In Houston, TX

    Repubs and conservatives take note.
    In the GOP, they never speak ill of a fellow GOPer
    Your fellow GOPers will cover you and cover up for you.
    When Ted Stevens was accused and indicted the GOP said "let's wait until after the trial to oust him.
    If you do something immoral, illegal, unethical in the Democratic party, We don't come to your rescue, we come to your hanging. Unless you can prove your innocense, the Dems are right there with the repugs torches lit and noose ready.

    December 31, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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