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. clifford

    This guy is such an idiot!!

    December 31, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. Sherman in Atlanta

    Where was this gutless wonder when we could have impeached Bush?

    December 31, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  3. Veteran in Kansas

    He will be seated and he will represent the State of Illinois if he shows up. Reid needs to understand that he and the Senate do not have the Consitutional power to block the appointment.

    A return to the rule of law. The Governor is still the Governor, he has the power to appoint the replacement Senator, no one else does. The Us Senate as pronounced by the US Supreme Court may only question and refuse to seat a Senator based upon age, citizenship qualifications.

    If the Senate leadership contiues on this path they are no more qualified to lead than the Republicans that thet replaced.

    The Illinois Sec of State has the administrative duty to confirm the Governors appointment, he does not under Illinois State Consitution have the authority to deny confirmation of the appointment, his authority amounts to a rubber stamp and in reality is not required.

    December 31, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  4. Elly

    the whole point of this story is NOT anything against Roland Burris
    its bc a crook like Governor Blagojevich does not have the right to choose an appointee while he is under investigation and it was blantantly arrogant of him to do so
    Harry Reid is right on this one

    December 31, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. Juan Grain

    They need to block it, even if they eventually have to go to a special elelction. i am ready for more elections anyway!!! Let the campaigning begin, yippy 🙂

    December 31, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  6. robert chapman

    Harry Reid's sense of proportion is baffling.

    Senator Reid consistently lets the GOP leadership push him around on important issues, but when he has a chance to accept a distinguished public official like Roland Burris into the US Senate, he decides to go down to the basement, put on the gloves and duke it out.

    Mr. Burris does not deserve to be treated disrespectfully.

    Whatever problems Gov. Blagojevich have pertain to him.

    Roland Burris should end his career as the junior Senator from the great state of Illinois.

    December 31, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  7. jrzshor

    so if harry doesn't like you, you can't be a senator?

    with his logic he could argue that no senator can be republican because republicans lost and he is in charge and na,na, na na.

    what happened to state's rights!

    December 31, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  8. jrzshor


    is Illinois in the midst of a coup?

    December 31, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  9. chris

    hmm, looks like a win win for the dems:

    the dems are in an excellent position. They should try to NOT seat him which would require the support of republicans (votes). If the all the dems vote yes to NOT seat him and they get no repub support (votes); then dems can claim they tried NOT to seat him, but got no support from the repubs. So had no choice to seat him and we move forward until time for re-election of that seat in 2010

    If they get enough repub votes then he does NOT get seated and the dems can claim bipartisan (no Bull Conner – LOL) support to NOT seat him. Either way it is to the dem advantage.

    Harry Reid wake up!!!

    p.s. the nutjob congressman who injected race into the issue most likely won't get re-elected when his turn comes up, but that is up to the folks in ILL, hopefully they will remember so we can rid ourselves of divisive folks in power.

    December 31, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. Rob

    Welcome to "The Chicago Democrat Machine Free-For-All"!!! Coming to a national government near you, January 20, 2009.

    Buckle up kiddies, we gots 4 years of this. Then we can get things back on the right track (or hopefully get things started with Congress in 2010).

    Let's give the Dems a chance to fall on their faces, and then the libs will be revealed as they truly are – know-nothing whiners who couldn't find their way out of a cardboard box.

    December 31, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  11. chris

    to America loses, Barack wins for now.

    The example of a country to look at is Sweden; they ran into the same problem, (Gov) realized what was going on, took similar steps (stimulus) and started upswing in their economy in ~2 years

    Japan on the other hand went through same (90's) but took them 10 years to get out of it because they did not do enough up front and had to keep stimulating.

    The good thing here is there is history of how to rectify the situation. I'm not fond of spending such large amounts of money, but neither am I fond of seeing looooooooooooong lines (soup kitchen), increased crime and more homeless so I favor spending the money.

    Besides the U.S is lkind of ike a weeble ( and our history from the early days of the country to the wars to the depression to the recessions to etc.. prove it.

    December 31, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  12. Erik in Real Pennsylvania

    I would not be surprised if the governor of Illinois is found guilty of corruption, and/or impeached for this reason by his legislature. But I am troubled by how quickly the Senate wants to invalidate his responsibilities before these proceedings occur, because of popular media-encouraged sentiment.

    Until the governor of Illinois is impeached or resigns, the appointment of a replacement senator is his responsibility. Innocent until proven guilty and all that. If YOU were arrested, would you be OK with your boss firing you and your spouse leaving you before your innocence was disproved in court (and impeachment proceedings ARE a court), Our nation indicates innocence is presumed until a court finds one guilty, and no cop, prosecutor or media circus should be able to take that away.

    December 31, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  13. Kevin in Ohio

    Amazing..... the audacity of it all. Just the initial taste of all the corruption and gangland politics that awaits us the next four years. If this was a Republican governor and a Republican senate seat, i shuder to think of the noise we'd be hearing as opposed to the milktoast punditry I see now.

    December 31, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. L.V.

    Listen.. as a black Obama-lovin democrat... I have to say to Bobby Rush: please shut up! Obama's election represents a fresh start. For 8 LONG years we have been upset about how race is and religion is used to divide us politically. Then we elect Obama and say "yay.. Bush is over" and then what do I see??? I see some idiot suing to have "For Help Me God" removed from the Inauguration and I see Bobby Rush injecting race into politics to get a senate seat. And he thinks he is speaking for blacks no you aint... we dont care who gets the seat.. they can give it to the whitest man in Illinois for all we care.. we got a Black President!!!!

    Just let me say... the next 4-8 years are gonna be good with Obama.. especially if the Al Sharpton's, ACLU's, Bobby Rush's, Nancy Pelosi's and Harry Ried's if they all SHUT UP!!!!! PLEASE! AND I SAY THAT AS A BLACK MAN... I MEAN I AM BLACK BLACK.. LIKE VERY DARK SKINNED BLACK.

    December 31, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  15. nclaw441

    Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? I am really shocked at the democrats on this. An indictment is NOT a conviction. The Governor of Illinois, as of today, is innocent, and thus should be allowed to appoint a replacement Senator for Obama.

    (I am a Republican, not from Illinois, but I cannot believe the hypocrisy of the left– at least most of them– on this issue.)

    December 31, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  16. Renee

    I now the law states that you are innocent until proven guilty, but I am convienced that law is not true. We all are judged upon before the courts get involved and people crusify us before. The law is the law he is still the govnor and have the power to appoint. He did so live with it. don't judge the appointee from the appointors day in court.

    Happy New Year America.

    December 31, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. Penn Voter

    Burris is either planning on dying soon or is an egomanic. The self centered legend in his own mind, has already had his mausoleum errected, probably with money from The Machine, listing all of his untested accomplishments for the World to read, standing in awe he presumes.

    Just what we need, another full of himself blowhard going to Washington.

    December 31, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  18. Eugene

    Interesting how the Bobby Rush comment elicited both strong denunciations from rational voices black and white, but also brought out all the pointy-head bigots who are still so bummed about facing an African-American as their president. Gov. Blago is merely prolonging the pain of us Illinois citizens and worsening his own eventual outcome.

    December 31, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  19. Texas Teacher

    This is a clear sign.... good ole boy, ole time politics will be a thing of the past very soon! The People have spoken... we want CHANCE! And if both parties do not get the picture soon... they will find themselves out in the cold the next elections.... Mark my words! 🙂

    December 31, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  20. Independent

    All lawmakers need to hurry up! This punk Blago is taking Illinois state down to the hill with him!

    December 31, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  21. No Hillary = No Obama

    Lawyers have ruined this country.

    December 31, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |

    Roland Burris isn't an upstanding Democrat like say, Barney Frank or Bill Clinton. He's not evan as cute at HRC or Nancy Pelosi.Harry Reid's head must be ready to explode!

    December 31, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  23. John Anthony

    Bobby Rush's comments on this matter are inaccurate and highly irresponsible! Forbidding the seating of Burris has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with his being black, but has EVERYTHING to do with Blagojevich defiantly appointing him in the midst of scandalous controversy. NO ONE is attempting to "hang or lynch" Mr. Burris. Rush should just shut up and mind his own business!

    December 31, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  24. TW, oregon

    The only legitimate questions for the democratic senators to ask are whether the appointment process was legitimate (it was as written in law) and whether the appointee falls within the broad category of a responsible representative of the people (there is no evidence to the contrary).

    The democratic senators are violating the law if they choose to bar the legal representative of Illinois from taking his constitutionally justified seat in the US Senate.

    December 31, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  25. Renee

    I can't see the differences in the Chicago senate appointee and the New York appointee( Caroline Kennedy). Please do not appoint her because of her name but appointment someone who is qualified and have experience/knowledge in the position that is posted. If she wants the position then she should run for it in 2 years.

    "God help/ and bless Us"

    December 31, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
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