Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Harry Reid Refuses to Seat Roland Burris

Majority Leader Harry Reid has refused to seat Democratic-appointee Roland Burris to Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat. The Los Angeles Times reports:

President-elect Barack Obama's appointed successor was turned away when he appeared at the U.S. Capitol to take his seat today.

Roland Burris announced the decision to deny him the seat as he stood before a large throng of reporters and cameras in the rain outside the Capitol building.

Speaking just an hour before the convening of the 111th Congress, Burris said he was looking at a host of options for getting the seat.

"I'm presenting myself as the legally appointed senator from the state of Illinois. It is my hope and prayer that they recognize that the appointment is legal," he said earlier in a nationally broadcast interview.

Burris dismissed the Senate Democratic leadership's position that he cannot be seated because he was appointed by a governor accused in a criminal complaint of trying to benefit financially from his authority to fill the seat that Obama vacated after winning the presidential election.

Burriss said his belief is that his appointment is constitutional and that "I have no knowledge of where a secretary of state has veto power over a governor carrying out his constitutional duties."

Burris also maintained on CBS's "The Early Show" that the announcement by Gov. Rod Blagojevich Monday of a date for an election for a successor to Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., proves the governor still has legal authority to carry out his duties. Emanuel will be Obama's White House chief of staff.

"There's nothing wrong with Roland Burris and there's nothing wrong with the appointment," Burris said.

Burris has found little support among fellow Democrats.

The Senate was scheduled to convene at noon Tuesday with its newest members. Yet the controversy over the appointment and the ongoing dispute over election results in Minnesota practically guaranteed that both seats would remain empty by day's end.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday that Burris would not be permitted to take his seat because Burris "has not been certified by the state of Illinois," a reference to incomplete paperwork that only touches on the dispute. Senate Democrats maintain that Burris' appointment is tainted because of the charges against Blagojevich.
I'm frankly still trying to figure out the politics of all this. It can't be that Democrats are trying to advance a reformist anti-corruption agenda. On the House side, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is set to roll back the GOP's congressional reforms dating to 1995's "Contract With America" under former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. As Tigerhawk notes:

Nancy Pelosi is amending House rules to revert to the status quo ante 1994, when Newt Gingrich and the Contract Republicans imposed a series of reforms to improve the "fairness" of the "People's House," including term limits for committee chairmen. As outraged Republicans have observed, this is hardly consistent with the spirit of "hope and change."
Check also Flopping Aces, which has photos of Roland Burris literally being shown the door. I don't normally worry about things like this, but there's some troubling racial symbolism in an eminent black man and state leader being ignominiously forced out of the back halls of a majoritarian white-power institution. The Democrats need to think again.


DFS said...

I find it interesting that the Democrats are so quick to "rush to judgment". Having spent the last 14 years in Chicago, I'm well aware of how deep the corruption runs. But the only calls I've seen for actually seating Burris have come from Republicans. I'm still not sure there are solid legal reasons for not seating him.

AmPowerBlog said...

Thanks for commenting, DFS!

Righty64 said...

The fact is that Gov. Blago has not been tried and or convicted! He is still the governor of Illinois! And, I totally agree with the racist symbolism that denying Mr. Burris his rightful seat represents. I posted on this. BTW, where IS President-elect Obama on this issue? After all it is HIS senate seat that is at issue.

AmPowerBlog said...

Thanks Mark!

JBW said...

DFS, I agree. I see no reason why Blago can not make this appointment legally; I think Reid spoke out against him before he really thought it through. But I can also see why the Democrats would want to avoid seating Burris if they could, considering the cloud over Blago's reputation and administration.

Righty64 and Don, come on! I can't believe that I'm the liberal talking shit about political correctness to two supposed conservatives here.

Obama's senate seat has never been a "black" senate seat and for Rep. Long to use language like "lynching" when discussing the blocking of Burris was irresponsible and stupid. I didn't hear you guys crying "racism" when the right said Obama was actually an African citizen or that he was a secret Muslim or that Michelle was his baby's momma. Your outrage seems a bit selective.

And Righty64, Obama has vacated his seat: he no longer has anything to do with it. Why is it suddenly so important to you guys to get his opinion on everything that happens in politics?

AmPowerBlog said...

JBW: My reference is to the photo symbolism at the Flopping Aces post cited herein. That's all ... I don't know nor really care about any racial aspect to the seat beyond that.

JBW said...

Don, I still think you're being a little too sensitive and that FA uses the term "Black man" in their headline because they're trying to be deliberately provocative but I accept your explanation.

Righty64, on the other hand, cites "racist symbolism" in "denying Mr. Burris his rightful seat", so I guess my comments are aimed more at him. Perhaps I should have made that demarcation more clear in my previous comment.

Joe "Truth 101" Kelly said...

Burris is a safe appointment for the Democratic Party. No doubt, Blago appointed him because Blago is an a@@hole. But this shows one of the few arears that I admire the Republicans for. Their leaders do a consistently better job running their Party then the Democratic Leadership does running mine.

Seat Burris Dems. The R's already own national security and their BS tax cuts issues. Now they will get race also if you don't just seat Burris and say Blagojevich is Fitzgerald's and Illinois' problem.

Laura Lee - Grace Explosion said...

As a Constitutionalist, I do not believe the Senate has the right to refuse to seat Burris. I don't care if they don't approve of Blago. I don't care what he has done. By law, he is still the Governor. By law, he has the power to appoint a Senator. Whether or not I personally approve of Burris is not the issue. The issue is that the Senate twists and perverts the law to refuse to seat a fellow member. The Secretary of State of Illinois has no "veto power". This is wrong, it is unconstitutional, and it is the constitution that must be followed.

These people are totalitarian in their declarations of what is "politically correct" from their view rather than THE LAW and the constitution. They are playing politics. Blago has not been convicted, he has not been impeached, he has not been removed from office by any legal means. He still holds the office and has appointed a Senator, and, by God, they must seat him.

I only lose more respect for this lawless and unconstitutional government.


Average American said...

The only reasonable objection to seating Burris would be IF he voted on anything and was then removed for some legal reason by the state of Illinois. I can't see how this could possibly happen though. It is not the same as a recount problem which could be changed by a court proceeding. Even if Blogo is removed as Governor later, Burris would still be the legally appointed Senator.