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Burris, Senate Dems prepare to clash over appointment

  • Story Highlights
  • Source says Illinois governor's appointee will come to the Hill Tuesday
  • Senate Democrats have vowed to prevent Roland Burris from taking seat
  • They say appointment is tainted by charges against Gov. Rod Blagojevich
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From Louise Schiavone
CNN
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A clash over the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama will intensify next week on Capitol Hill when Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's pick to fill that seat arrives in Washington.

Roland Burris, right, says Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's appointment of him is legal.

Roland Burris, right, says Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's appointment of him is legal.

A longtime friend and confidant of former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris said late Friday that Burris will be in Washington Monday night and hopes to be seated in the Senate the next day.

That puts him on a collision course with members of the Senate Democratic majority, who have vowed to prevent Burris from taking the seat. At issue: a federal prosecutor's charge that Blagojevich had hoped to barter the Senate seat for either money or influence.

Senate leaders cite Article 1, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution, which states "Each house shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members."

Those leaders say it's Burris' pick by the potentially tainted governor and not Burris himself that poses the problem

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley, said, "To be clear, this is not about Mr. Burris or the color of his skin. It's about the man who appointed him. We're not going to seat anyone that he appointed."

But some legal analysts say as long as Blagojevich remains in office, the case against seating Burris -- who is not accused of wrongdoing -- will be difficult. Illinois law plainly gives the governor the sole right to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy.

Bolstering that case is another section of the Constitution. Article 1, Section 3 lists the qualifications for a senator: that he or she be at least 30-years-old, a citizen of the United States for at least nine years and an inhabitant of the state from which he or she is chosen.

Burris, 71, is a lifelong Illinoisan and one of the state's most accomplished African-American politicians.

Joe Shoemaker, an aide to number two Senate Democrat Dick Durbin said, as the week ended, Burris spoke with Durbin, the senior senator from Illinois, briefly, but nothing has been resolved. Two senior Democratic sources said the differences between Senate Democratic leaders and Burris, at this time, are "irreconcilable."

All About Rod BlagojevichIllinoisRoland BurrisU.S. Senate

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