January 1st, 2009
08:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Aides: Democrats have plan if Burris shows up

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/01/illinois.senate.seat/art.blag.burris.wgn.jpg caption="Senate Democrats will not allow Burris on the Senate Floor if he shows up next week."](CNN) - Senate Democratic leaders think Roland Burris, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's pick to fill President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat, will likely show up on Capitol Hill Tuesday for the opening day of Congress, according to a Democratic aide familiar with Senate Democratic leaders' plans.

They have prepared a contingency plan in case he does, the aide added.

Burris will not be allowed on the Senate floor, according to this aide and a Senate Democratic leadership aide.

Watch: What if Burris shows up?

The aide familiar with Senate Democratic leaders' plans said if Burris tries to enter the Senate chamber, the Senate doorkeeper will stop Burris. If Burris were to persist, either trying to force his way onto the Senate floor or refusing to leave and causing a scene, U.S. Capitol Police would stop him, said the aide.

"They (police) probably won't arrest him" but they would call the sergeant-at-arms," the aide said.

When asked about what would happen if he shows up and tries to be seated, Burris told the Chicago Tribune that he's, "not going to create a scene in Washington." He added, "We hope it's negotiated out prior to my going to Washington."

Burris told CNN that, "We're certainly going to make contacts with the leadership to let them know that the governor of Illinois has made a legal appointment. And that I am currently the junior senator for the State of Illinois. And we're hoping and praying that, you know, they will see the reason in appointing me as a very qualified, capable, able and ready-to-serve individual."

Coincidentally, the senate sergeant-at-arms, Terrance Gainer, served in the Illinois government at the same time as Burris. Gainer was the director of the Illinois State Police from 1991-95. Burris was the Illinois attorney general from 1991-95.

Senate Democratic leaders, who consider Governor Rod Blagojevich a loose cannon, also have discussed what might happen if Blagojevich shows up on Capitol Hill Tuesday, said the aide familiar with their plans. But the leaders see that move by Blagojevich as unlikely at this time.

This would be a "radioactive" situation, according to the aide, because Senate Democratic leaders could not deny Blagojevich entry, as sitting governors have floor privileges in the Senate. Governors are allowed to walk around the Senate chamber or talk with senators while on the floor, though they cannot vote or formally address the Senate.

Blagojevich is aware he is allowed access to the Senate floor, his spokesman Lucio Guerrero said, but "the idea of going on Tuesday was first raised by a reporter," not Blagojevich.

The governor is not planning on going to Capitol Hill at this time, Guerrero said.

Filed under: Roland Burris
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. End Of An Error

    I really hope Blagojevich gets a lot of prison time for what he has done.

    His arrogant and willful attempts to disrupt and subvert democracy deserve the absolute harshest penalties.

    January 1, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  2. buddhawest

    If Mr. Burris ever had any integrity, he has certainly lost it in pursuing, at any cost, this appointment. The process is tainted and, by extension, he is tainted. As well as having an inflated sense of self (just look at how he describes himself on his own mausoleum ... LOL).

    I hope right-minded people will see this for what it is and not allow it to happen. Mr. Burris should be ashamed of himself. If you want a seat in the Senate, then run for it honestly and let the people decide.

    January 1, 2009 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  3. Mobius

    Did somebody just say 'integrity' and 'democrat' in the same sentence?

    January 1, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  4. tim

    Hey CNN... this is crappy story that you threw up here. Lets talk about how Iranian students are volunteering to be suicide bombers in Israel.

    Or lets talk about Israel/Gaza.

    You all put these gossip stories up when there are better things to talk about. There are bigger things going on in the world than this or that Obama's hotel is historic.

    Give me a break.

    January 1, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  5. Proud American

    Republicans are such Idiots...

    January 1, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  6. Sherrol in Canada

    It was a legal appointment albeit by a disgraced Govenor, so Burris should be allowed in the Senator chamber. Do I want the Dem Senators to block him, sure I do, he should not have accepted the appointment. He has no morals.

    Hope there won't be demonstrators and this thing turns into a nasty racially charged gathering.

    January 1, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  7. Pat in IL

    Until, or unless he is confirmed by the state of Illinois, he is not officially appointed. Blago's "appointment" was just the first step in the process. It would be completely appropriate for the senate to not allow Burris to be seated if he is not confirmed by Illinois.

    January 1, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  8. Proud African-American woman






    January 1, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  9. Rob Stumpf

    The Senate doesn't have to seat Burris, and even if I am wrong, it doesn't matter. The matter will have to go to the courts, and that will keep things in limbo long enough for the next Governor of Illinois (Quinn) to name an alternate candidate, who WILL be seated.

    Burris is just a pawn in Blago's game to save his own butt. It really doesn't matter what happens to him.

    January 1, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  10. Chicago Red

    Governor Rod Blagojevich's is still the Gov.......and Fitzgerald is just taking his time from 2 weeks to months like it or not Rod is still GOV....therefore the appointment is legal

    January 1, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  11. Ken

    Burris could have demonstrated that he had an ounce of polical savvy and turned down the appointment from Blagojevich. Then, if he was truly interested in the office, he could run in the next election. Insted, he serves as a source of momentum for the "Blagojevich circuis". Blagojevich is using the whole situation as a side show to deflect attention from his own problems. Blagojevich's silence immediately after his arrest and charges were made substantially damaged his credibility. His appointment of Burris in that context looks like an act of despiration. Burris should apply a little common sense and turn down the appointment. They could hold a special election and let Blagojevich have his day in court.

    January 1, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  12. Proud American

    "Lynched" your handle says it all. I'm willing to bet you dress up in sheets at night. Funny you of all people speak about racism. Idiot

    January 1, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  13. The Legislator

    Quite impressive ! The U.S. senate is apparently a private club which members are allowed to refuse entry to whomever they don't approve of. I don't care much about the situation in Illinois involving their governor, but doesn't the constitution allows a state to send a representative of their choice to the U.S. senate ? This is a legal appointment to the senate by a governor who has the legal authority to appoint, notwithstanding his legal woes. That's the problem when you live by rules written more than 200 years ago. Sometimes Federal and State rules run afoul of each other.

    January 1, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  14. Bill Charlotte,NC

    What a sad tragic mess. The "founding fathers" must be turning over in their graves.

    January 1, 2009 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  15. Ben

    If this is a legal appointment, and it appears to be so, it doesn't matter what the Gov. of Illinois has or has not done. This man should be seated. To use the Capitol police to stop this legal appointment sets a very bad precedent. If they are allowed to get away with this, what will stop them from blocking any future appointment with which they do not agree? Like it or not, it is a legal appointment and should be handled accordingly. If the people of Illinois don't like it, then they can have a special election and elect a different person.

    January 1, 2009 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  16. TexAnnie *-*-*-*-*

    chuck– you're a dimwit for the comment you made. You should be ashamed of being the raving bigot you obviously are.

    January 1, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  17. Ross in MD

    So Dick Cheney is still the president of the Senate, Joe Lieberman has his committee chairmanships, and Ted Stevens was given a standing ovation on the Senate floor ....but Roland Burris is the one who is in trouble.

    Senate Democrats don't have brains or spines. It's a wonder they can get themselves dressed in the morning.

    At least Obama got out of that cesspool.

    January 1, 2009 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  18. EJ

    If Mr. Burris had any integrity, he would have already discussed the situation with Democratic leadership and attempted to figure out how best to handle this obviously flawed promotion. In fact, if Mr. Burris had sense, he would have refused the position.

    January 1, 2009 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  19. Lawrence in Denver


    First let me say that i wouldn't trust a Blagojevich appointee as far as I could throw him/her and think he is a sleaze BUT....until he is convicted, Blagojevich has a Constitutional right to make an appointment to replace the seat of President Elect Barack Obama. So technically, Burris' appointment (for now, anyway) is legit.

    What makes this RIDICULOUS, moreso HILARIOUS, is that these are adults that we have elected to high offices of the land.

    Both the Democrats and Republicans are acting like children. They all need a TIMEOUT!

    ~Lawrence in Denver

    January 1, 2009 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  20. legal in nc

    Unrelated to this article but wondering why CNN is not covering this story......................... IS THIS THE CHANGE THE MAJORITY VOTED FOR?????????

    WASHINGTON - A 50 percent increase in gasoline and diesel fuel taxes is being urged by a federal commission to finance highway construction and repair until the government devises another way for motorists to pay for using public roads.

    The National Commission on Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing, a 15-member panel created by Congress, is the second group in a year to call for higher fuel taxes.

    Not so hard to believe that after giving themselves a pay raise the Demotwit led Congress is offering this up to the struggling American people...

    January 1, 2009 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  21. AllenH in Raleigh NC

    Is this drama a comedy or a tragedy? While the old saw about "where there's smoke there's fire" concerning Blogo and while he has been accused of pretty low-down actions he has not been indicted much less convicted of any wrong-doing, it seems to be rather shady BUT... He is the duly elected govenor of Ill. and their legislature has given appointment power to the sitting guv.

    He is well within rights to appoint who he feels will best serve the people of the state – even if there is some subterfuge going on. And no way should the senate try to block the seating of Mr. Burris, who is by all accounts highly competent to serve. Even if he is being driven by ego and ambition. Name me one senator who isn't.

    If, in two years the people of Illinois choose not to return him to the senate then so be it but for now they deserve representation. And that process has been put into place.

    I had suspected that Sarah Palin might appoint herself to replace Ted Stevens had he won re-election but found that the process in Alaska had been changed because the previous guv had appointed his daughter to fill an empty seat. The American system usually works – we elected Obama to replace a failed regime didn't we? – and should be allowed to work, even if it takes some time

    January 1, 2009 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  22. Proud American

    Republican are such hateful Idiots, and what's sad they couldn't run an aminal shelter(Already Proven). Republicans you lost and are still losers.. Move On

    January 1, 2009 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  23. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Burris and the dumb governor are showing arrogance and stupidity worthy of Bush and his henchmen.

    January 1, 2009 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  24. John

    To clarify:

    1. Like it or not, Rod Blagojevich is still governor – unconvicted and unimpeached (yet). Therefore he has the power to appoint the new Senator under applicable law.

    2. The Senate does not have the authority "not to seat" a Senator chosen under applicable law of the State. The Supreme Court has said so in the past. Burris will win his case.

    3. If anything is found to be wrong with this appointment, Mr. Burris can be removed. But before we do that, there will be some kind of trial to prove the relevant facts. That's something we do in a democracy.

    4. Unlike the governor who appointed him, Burris is a good man with a good history of service. Although his acceptance of the appointment shows bad judgment, bad judgment has never been a disqualification for or removal from office.

    5. Extremely troubling to this lifelong Democrat is the fact that the response by Senate Democrats (and the Democrat Secretary of State of Illinois) to the unbridled lawlessness of the Blagojevich administration has been a similar and convenient circumvention of the law.

    At times like this, we need more than ever to have faith in our laws and to make sure we follow them in every detail.

    January 1, 2009 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  25. And the Truth is...

    Gee, surprise me; let's make this all about "race"..... This card has been played and Burris should not be allowed on the senate floor and any decision should be made after they decide how to deal with Blagojevich!!!!

    January 1, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
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