Feinstein wants Burris in Senate

January 6, 2009 4:20:03 PM PST
The chairman of the Senate Rules Committee has parted with many of her Democratic colleagues and says that the Senate should seat former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said Tuesday that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, however tainted by corruption charges, has the right to appoint someone to President-elect Barack Obama's former seat. The Rules Committee decides whether Burris is qualified to serve.

Feinstein said that blocking Burris would have ramifications for other governors' appointments.

Earlier Tuesday, standing amid a huge throng of reporters and television cameras in a cold and steady rain, Burris, 71, declared that he had been informed that "my credentials are not in order and will not be accepted."

The former Illinois attorney general said he was "not seeking to have any type of confrontation" over taking the seat that he was appointed to by embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich. But Burris also said he was looking at options for taking the seat.

It was a spectacular demonstration of political gridlock at a time when the Democratic-controlled Congress has been eagerly awaiting Obama's inauguration while nervously anticipating tense work on a much-discussed stimulus program to steady the faltering economy.

An attorney for Burris, Timothy W. Wright III, said that "our credentials were rejected by the secretary of the Senate. We were not allowed to be placed in the record books. We were not allowed to proceed to the floor for purposes of taking oath. All of which we think was improperly done and is against the law of this land. We will consider our options and we will certainly let you know what our decisions will be soon thereafter."

Asked what his options were, Wright said there possibly could be a court challenge and he said that Burris also would continue to talk to the Senate leadership.

There had been earlier indications that the Senate would disallow Burris to take his seat, at least in part because his letter of appointment from Blagojevich was not co-signed by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.


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