Roland Burris in Washington

Senate leaders opposed to his appointment
January 5, 2009 8:51:36 PM PST
But fellow Democrats are pledging not to accept anyone appointed by Blagojevich. The United States Capitol is within site but likely still out of reach for Roland Burris.

"We're not asking for any type of compromise, controversy, conflict, all we're saying is that what the governor formally did was legal," said Roland Burris, U.S. Senate Appointee.

Legal, maybe. But Illinois is so scarred by scandal no one in the Senate wants to seat his appointee.

The governor's chief-of-staff hand delivered Burris' letter of appointment but the Senate's parliamentarian said the lack of a signature by Secretary of State Jesse White makes it incomplete.

"He has not been certified by the secretary of state of Illinois," said Sen. Harry Reid, Senate Democratic leader.

"Roland Burris is welcome to come up to my office, if he wants to be there, to witness what's going on at the chamber, but he doesn't have the legal right to the floor of the Senate," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D), Illinois.

The governor's team says in recent weeks Illinois' secretary of state has signed off on everything from pardons issued by Blagojevich to the date for a special election to fill a congressional seat.

President-elect Barack Obama is trying to stay above the fray. Obama's name is already off the door of his old Senate office even though the who and when of a replacement is still far from settled.

"My duty as chief of staff representing the state of Illinois was to present the credentials we have in hand to get a U.S. Senator. I believe it will be up to Roland Burris as the Senate appointee to go forward to get seated," said Clayton Harris, governor's acting chief of staff.

On Monday night, Mr. Burris is in Washington but at least for now, it's in the role of tourist. ABC7 asked if he knew what he was getting into.

"That much drama? No. But the controversy doesn't bother me because i know I'm right. There has been talk," said Burris.

There has been talk of some sort of compromise in Washington that would seat Burris but only after Gov. Blagojevich is removed from office. Burris said if he's not part of the swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday he plans on taking the Senate to court.

Senate leaders opposed to his appointment

Paperwork naming Burris to the seat was received by the U.S. Senate secretary Monday morning, but was not formally accepted, according to Lucio Guerrero, spokesman for embattled Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The paperwork, delivered by an official representing Blagojevich, lacks certification from Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who also has refused to sign off on any Blagojevich appointment.

On Monday afternoon, Ill. Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn also called on Burris to withdraw himself as the Senate-designate.

Burris plans to succeed President-Elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate. However, opponents say Burris' appointment is tainted because it was made by Governor Blagojevich, who is accused of trying to sell that Senate seat to the highest bidder.

"I am an old trial lawyer, there is always room to negotiate," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reid hinted that there might be a chance Burris could be seated on Tuesday.

Burris says he plans to sit down with Reid and tell him: "I'm here to take my seat."

However, Senate Democrats- with the support of President-elect Obama- have said they will not seat anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich.

The Senate's No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin, is standing his ground.

"The governor of Illinois has the state constitutional authority to fill the vacancy. The senate of the United States has the U.S. Constitutional responsibility to decide if Mr. Burris was chosen in a proper manner, and that is what we're going to do," said Durbin.

Despite the controversy, Burris said he is confident he will get the seat.

"I'm ready to serve friends. I am ready to serve," said Burris.

Burris, who spoke to supporters Sunday at a South Side church, said he is prepared for whatever happens Tuesday at the swearing in ceremony.

"I'm going to give about a 50 percent chance they will seat him. I think he probably should be seated just under the absolute rules that are being talked about now. I think it's unfortunate we put him in that situation," said Clarke Caywood, political expert.

Meanwhile, Governor Blagojevich sent his top deputy to Washington to give the Senate paperwork on Burris' appointment. The paperwork includes a document from Secretary Of State Jesse White confirming the receipt but not certification of the appointment.

"I will go up to the place where they have scheduled me to go. If they turn me around, then we will proceed to leave and then proceed to take whatever action we need to take," said Burris.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.