Burris Will Be Seated This Week

(CBS)
Roland Burris, who was appointed to Barack Obama's Senate seat by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, will be seated by the U.S. Senate this week, barring objections from Senate Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin released a statement this afternoon explaining their decision to seat Burris, who was turned away when he attempted to be sworn in last week.

"The Secretary of the Senate has determined that the new credentials presented today on behalf of Mr. Burris now satisfy Senate Rules and validate his appointment to the vacant Illinois Senate seat," they said. "In addition, as we requested, Mr. Burris has provided sworn testimony before the Illinois House Committee on Impeachment regarding the circumstances of his appointment."

"We have spoken to Mr. Burris to let him know that he is now the Senator-designate from Illinois and as such, will be accorded all the rights and privileges of a Senator-elect," continued Reid and Durbin.

"Accordingly, barring objections from Senate Republicans, we expect Senator-designee Burris to be sworn in and formally seated later this week," they said. "We are working with him and the office of the Vice President to determine the date and time of the swearing-in."

"As we had outlined to Mr. Burris, a path needed to be followed that respects the rules of the Senate," concluded the senators. "We committed to Mr. Burris that once those requirements were satisfied, we would be able to proceed. We are pleased that everything is now in order, we congratulate Senator-designee Burris on his appointment and we look forward to working with him in the 111th Congress."

Blagojevich, of course, has been impeached by the Illinois House on corruption charges, among them trying to effectively sell Mr. Obama's seat. The Senate leadership had previously vowed not to seat a Blagojevich appointee, but last week signaled their openness to seating Burris.

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna quickly released a statement criticizing Democrats for not keeping Blagojevich from making an appointment. Illinois Republicans pushed for a special election to fill Mr. Obama's seat in the wake of the Blagojevich scandal; had one been called, the seat might have ended up in Republican hands.

"By failing to strip Rod Blagojevich of his senate appointment power, Democrats chose to trust a madman over the people of Illinois," said McKenna.

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