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Burris to meet with Dem leaders, source says

  • Story Highlights
  • Senate hopeful Roland Burris to meet with Democratic leaders Wednesday
  • Meeting set for day after new Senate session convenes
  • Senate Democrats have vowed to prevent Burris from taking seat
  • They say appointment is tainted by charges against Gov. Rod Blagojevich
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate Democratic leaders have scheduled a meeting with Roland Burris, who was chosen by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to fill the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, a Democratic source said Saturday.

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.

The meeting between Burris; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada; and Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, one day after the Senate convenes, said the source.

Burris requested Wednesday's meeting, according to the source, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Burris told CNN he will be in Washington on 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 use procedure to prevent Burris from taking the seat.

At issue: a federal prosecutor's charge that Blagojevich had hoped to barter the President-elect Barack Obama's 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 the pick by the potentially tainted governor that poses the problem, not the pick itself.

"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," Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley, told CNN last week.

Democrats expect Burris to show up on Capitol Hill on Tuesday with a certificate of appointment signed by Blagojevich but missing the signature of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, according to the Democratic source and a Democratic Senate leadership aide.

White has refused to certify Burris' appointment, which will lead to Burris being denied access to the Senate floor, the scenario that Senate Democrats expect will play out, both sources said.

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

Senate Democrat Dick Durbin, the senior senator from Illinois, briefly spoke with Burris last week, but nothing's been resolved, Durbin aide Joe Shoemaker said .

Two senior Democratic sources said the differences between Senate Democratic leaders and Mr. Burris, at this time, are "irreconcilable."

CNN's Brianna Keilar and Louise Schiavone contributed to this report.

All About Rod BlagojevichIllinoisRoland BurrisU.S. Senate

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