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. Dorothy In NC

    I don't know Illinois Law but if the governor hasn't been removed, then he is still the governor (idiot that he is) and his appointment would be legal. When they discovered what he had done, he should have been arrested immediately and his power taken away. Now it is a mess. This governor is such an arrogant idiot that it just boggles my mind. He is snubbing his nose at everyone, making a sham of the government and our laws. When something like this happens to a governor, all his powers to appoint should be frozen until it is proven he didn't break any laws. Also the people of Illinois should really decide and if I were Burris and wanted a politiocal career, I would get as far away from this governor as I could.

    January 1, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  2. wanbligi

    If the Burris appointment is legal by the Illinois governor, then why not sit the Senator from Illinois. This whole Illinois governor smear just does not seem right and to me there appears more under the surface than a governor run awry.

    January 1, 2009 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  3. Walter, Long Beach

    If we really believe in the rule of law, the Governor must be allowed the presumption of innocence. And until he resigns, or is removed under existing constitutional procedures, he is entirely within his rights to exercise the powers of his office.

    Absent any evidence (or even any suggestion) that there was any impropriety involved in the Burris appointment, there is no legitimate reason for the Senate to refuse to seat him. If impropriety is ever proven, he can be removed.

    I know that this is the boring way to handle the problem, and that it doesn't satisfy the thirst for blood that many folks have. But the last eight years should be adequate warning about the consequences of having public officials who think that the rules are for someone else.

    January 1, 2009 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  4. Gil

    While I don't think Burris should be allowed to take the Obama Senate seat I note that some of the same ones of you who are tearing him apart are the same names who think bush is a great president. Da! Not the best, but the worst! in both cases?

    January 1, 2009 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  5. Sam Vucinic

    I was watching Anderson Cooper 360 and they were discussing the
    New York senate position and who could be appointed.The commentators name escaped me but he said the Governor of New York
    is probably asking himself what the potential candidates could do for him in return for an appointment.That's just politics but I guess its OK in New York but criminal in Illinois.

    January 1, 2009 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  6. Nestor, Austin, TX

    Sure, they'll allow William 'Cold Cash' Jefferson to stay in congress, and they'll let Charlie 'Tax-Evader who writes Tax Laws' Rangel stay, and even Edward 'The Swimmer' Kennedy and Robert 'Grand Wizard' Byrd, the list goes on and on, but here is where the Democrat leaders draw the line. The 'Most Ethical' Congress, is going to actually enforce ethics? Now? Someone must have pressured Harry 'Bridge to his Property' Reid.

    January 1, 2009 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  7. Thomas Wells

    Oh look, our country is falling. All the kings men couldn't put it back together again. You all that are against this appointment are in direct violation of the constitution. Rebuttals won't mitigate a difference.

    January 1, 2009 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  8. Ashamed?

    @buddhawest,Please tell me the last time you saw anyone say they were ashamed of what they did,especially a politician in D.C.Many of them of a complete distain for those that elected them.This is 2009,Honesty and Shame are 2 things you wont find near the capital,im sorry to say.

    January 1, 2009 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  9. Ann

    Senator Burris has the right to be there on Tuesday. The current Democratic leaders are so stupid and pathetic.

    January 1, 2009 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  10. dmjakers

    So, the folks who made testimonial speeches and standing ovations for a seven-time convicted federal felon – Senator Ted Stevens – are denying the Constitutional rights of a man with a sterling reputation and stellar and unblemished career because of their dislike for some third party?
    Hypocrisy, oh how we never got to miss you in Washington because you never left us alone!

    January 1, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  11. Robert A. Ficalora

    Roland Burris is the legal and constitutional Junior Senator from the state of Illinois.

    Gov. Blagojevich is the second term elected governor of the state of Illinois. He has neither been indicted on criminal charges nor been found guilty of committing a crime. His work should not in any way be hindered outside of the due process of law.

    It makes me wonder what the Democratic Party and the honorable Barack Obama (a former law professor) stand for when the Constitution and the rule of law aren't considered in their actions.

    January 1, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  12. Kip D. Fisher

    I think its wrong for the Democratic leadership to not seat Mr. Burris simply because he was appointed by Gov. Blagojevich. I believe the man should be judged on his merits, rather than the sins of another. I was an independent who became a democrat this year, primarily because of the Dems message of inclusiveness, and working together for the good of the country, and frankly I'm a little disappointed in the party over this. If there is any evidence that Mr. Burris payed for the appointment in any way, then by all means, keep him out; but if there is no evidence of improper behavior, Mr. Burris should be seated. I hope the Senate Dems come up with a way to make this work out, otherwise they could lose some hard won favor and ground.

    January 1, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  13. KJL

    It's a shame that Roland Burris has been caught up in this. He seems like a decent and deserving man. However, that doesn't matter. No choice that Blago makes should be honored because that choice will be tainted. Even if Burris didn't "buy" his seat, he is a pawn in an extremely unpleasant game.

    January 1, 2009 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  14. California Gold

    Shame on you Burris. When you accepted Blagojevich's appointment to the Senate you spent every last cent of integrity and destroyed the reputation you earned over a lifetime. Of course the governor can appoint you, but this governor has been arrested and is out on bail. Next week he will be indicted. As an elder statesman you should know the fire storm any appointment would create. Politics does not exist in a vacume. You made a deal with the devil and it has cost you in public opinion. In our eyes you are professionally bankrupt. Now go away.

    January 1, 2009 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  15. Marlene the Dream

    Mr. Burris unfortunately allowed his ego and ambition to put him in a compromising position. He didn't care about the degree of manipulation by Blago, he placed his bet that he could take the job and run, fighting and declaring it legal. One (more intelligent) black man had already declined Blago's appointment but Burris swallowed the bait and now he'll choke on it. But with the size of such an ego, I'm sure he'll turn things to his advantage eventually. So don't feel sorry for him, at the least he'll probably get a lucrative book deal and an infinite number of speaking engagements. All of the rest of us are the losers in this situation – the American citizens. Thanks to Blago, this situation has taken a ridiculous amount of time and resources from us and our PE that need to be devoted to more important issues.

    January 1, 2009 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  16. White sheets and pointy hats

    If you think this is funny,you should see how Crocker in Tenn. and the Senators of Kentucky and Alabama got their seats.

    January 1, 2009 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  17. Proud American

    To all Republicans today is the first day of a brand new year and the beginning of some your eyes have never seen. Leadership in the White House. Mr. Obama is ready to tackle the mess of the past 8 years created by someone who isn't qualified to run the local 7-eleven, let alone the United States. Get on board and watch progress and please keep your hate to yourself. If you hate Dems or the incoming admin that bad I hear China is looking for a few good idiots. Happy New Year!!!!!

    January 1, 2009 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  18. Tom

    This is to perfect. I don't think a Republican could have scripted this any better. First the Democratic party nearly rips itself to pieces over the primaries, and now they can't even trust their own governor to appoint someone to finish the term of the Democratic Messiah. Why? Because he is being accused of corruption. *Gasp* a corrupt Democrat, NO WAY. Now because this Governor is accused, not convicted, of selling a Senate seat to the highest bidder. The Dem's are going to bar him from even entering the Senate floor. So ultimately who gets to decide the fate of anything in a "Democratic" run government? The top of the Democratic party? Wow now if that doesn't sound like Communism, what is? They get to decide who is in and who is out? I thought this was all suppossed to be decided by the will of the people. Since a Senator is suppossed to be chosen from among the people to speak for the people, why not take this time between the election and inauguration to hold an election so the people can decide who they want to represent them in the Senate. But I guess that would be to much like what our country was actually founded as, a "Republic".

    January 1, 2009 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  19. Nola

    Here hoping that Mr. Burris will stay in Chicago until all the legal issues have been resolved. The State has not certified his appointment – therefore he is not allow into the chamber – So he should stay at home/informed the Governor he does not want the position.

    January 1, 2009 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  20. jonnierae

    They should end the drama and just seat Burris. He was legally appointed. in 2010, they can run someone against him in the primary. Somebody who could win. It is silly, especially when this could drag on indefinitely, with Fitzgerald asking for more time and all. What has he really got??? Just seat him. He gets to be Senator for two years. Big deal.

    January 2, 2009 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  21. bsmith171

    reid and his cronies will get overturned by the courts.
    they will also come across as anti-black.
    burris is qactually black and obama is a bi-racial candidate with no 'slave' blood.

    January 2, 2009 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  22. duane

    Article 1, Section 5 of the Constitution gives the Senate the authority to reject the Burris appointment:

    "Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members ..."

    Considering that the same governor who was caught illegally trying to sell the very appointment that he now granted Burris, the Senate's position is ironclad.

    January 2, 2009 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  23. Yahbut

    How long has congress had the authority to refuse to seat someone

    legally appointed just because they do not like the appointer.

    The governor of Illinois, like him or not, is still a sitting governor and

    has the right to appoint someone to an open senate seat.

    When was Harry Reid given the authority to just toss out somebody

    he doesn't like.

    If I had my way I'd toss out Harry Reid because I don't like him.

    I realize this appointment has to be certified, but Harry Reid is not

    the "King" of the senate. He is nothing but a lowly public servant just

    as all the other disgusting members of congress are.

    The congress is supposed to be working for all the people of this

    country and not deciding who is going to represent us. That is our


    Why not just have an election to fill the empty senate seat?

    Oh yes I do realize why that must not happen because certain people

    would lose some control, but it would be the best thing for all the

    voters in Illinois, if they had an open election.

    One way to start to put an end to this corruption in congress is to set

    term limits. The time for action on this is NOW!

    January 2, 2009 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  24. Sweet Caroline

    There was a Dem who had a spine
    And Blago was his name oh B-L-A-G-O
    B-L-A-G-O And Blago was his... GFY!!!

    If Reid pulls this idiot move, then he's taking it to the Supremes. He'll get no love there, since the precedent has been set by the 1969 Powell v. McCormack Supreme Court case.

    The Senate cannot legally block this appointment, not even physically. For the life of me, I cannot fathom the Dem logic here, except wishful thinking.

    January 2, 2009 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  25. God Help us

    this man did nothing but get nominated and you are already jumping on him as he has done something wrong. Less you forget people. Christ did not die for a group of people he died for everyone. For all who have SINNED.

    January 2, 2009 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
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