In its long, august history, the United States Senate has rarely had to deal with the kind of situation that the appointment by Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois senate-designate Roland Burris has put them in.
Burris's paperwork was rejected by the Secretary of the Senate because it was not signed by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who has vowed not to seat anyone appointed by the disgraced Illinois governor. But Burris will show up today with the rest of the new senators and says that he is going to be sworn in:
Mr. Burris, on the other hand, arrived here in the capital Monday night and issued a statement saying he planned to appear at the Senate on Tuesday morning and seek to be recognized as the “legally appointed and constitutionally qualified junior senator” from Illinois.
“Our state and our nation is at a perilous moment,” Mr. Burris said, “and there is much work to be done.”
Senate Democrats said they did not expect any sort of confrontation with Mr. Burris, whose own conduct has not been in question despite the questions swirling around his appointment. And they have said they intend to meet with him to discuss any accommodation that might eventually be reached.
Mr. Reid has suggested that he is open to negotiations, and Democrats have drawn back somewhat from their position that Mr. Burris will not be seated under any circumstances. Democrats said Monday that they were uncertain of the outcome, though they said it remained likely that the appointment would be referred to the Senate Rules Committee for an investigation of its legitimacy.“We have to take it one step at a time,” said Mr. Durbin, who will be sworn in himself Tuesday, having won re-election on Nov. 4.
They don't expect a confrontation with Burris? I certainly hope that's the case but at this point, anything is possible. And Durbin's "one step at a time" comment is telling. It may be at this point that those steps will be going backward and that Harry Reid's firm statement that Burris will never be seated may be dissolving into mush.
In fact, I would guess that the Senate is going to have to scramble to find a way to break its own rules (not to mention Reid going back on his promise) in order for them to find a way to get Burris his seat. Republicans will try to block the appointment but it would be an uphill fight given precedent and the Democrat's determination to pander shamelessly to their African American base.
Frankly, I don't know what all the fuss is about. Burris is such a non-entity - such an empty suit of a man - that we won't even notice he's even in the senate at all.
Meanwhile, now that Al Franken has been declared the winner in Minnesota, Harry thinks we should stop counting the ballots:
“The race in Minnesota’s over,” declared the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada. “Now it’s only a little finger-pointing.”
But any effort to seat Mr. Franken is certain to draw serious opposition from Senate Republicans and further complicate an already messy opening to the new Congress.“The race in Minnesota is not over,” retorted Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, just minutes after Mr. Reid had spoken at the very same microphones. “Under the Minnesota law, an election certificate does not issue until litigation has been concluded.”
Reid said yesterday, in a rather Shermanesque statement, that "“Norm Coleman will never ever serve [again] in the Senate." “He lost the election. He can stall things, but he'll never serve in the Senate.”
Never ever? Don't you wish he had that kind of spine when dealing with Burris?