Burris Seated After All?

It’s been widely reported that Roland Burris is going to be seated as Illinois’ junior United States Senator after all.

llinois U.S. Senate Appointee Roland Burris, center, and Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., left, meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

llinois U.S. Senate Appointee Roland Burris, center, and Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., left, meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Democratic aides are disputing reports that there is a deal to seat Roland Burris, even as Burris sits behind closed doors negotiating with Majority Leader Harry Reid and Majority Whip Dick Durbin.

The Associated Press reported a deal had been made, but two Senate Democratic aides, in interviews with Politico are disputing the report that there has been a deal. The report is “wrong,” said Reid spokesman Jim Manley. In a press conference this morning, President-elect Barack Obama declined to take a position on whether to seat Burris. Burris himself is planning two more press conferences today — one at the Hyatt on Capitol Hill and one back in Chicago after he flies home to testify in the impeachment proceedings against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

If there is an eventual deal, it would be an extraordinary turnabout by Senate Democrats. But the momentum has been growing toward a deal on Burris, as more Democrats were becoming uncomfortable with the situation and Burris seemed to have serious political and legal momentum. No details of the meeting have been released. Reid, Durbin and Burris were scheduled to meet from 10:30 to 11 a.m. today.

Blagojevich calculated, apparently correctly, that refusing to seat a qualified black man would be too difficult to sustain politically. Absent evidence that Burris was involved in shady dealings to get the seat — and none exists, so far as I’m aware — Reid and company are going to have to swallow their pride and seat the man who was lawfully appointed.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. PD Shaw says:

    I’ll differ from the conventional wisdom of the Governor’s brilliance. If the most important issue is getting to select the Senator, then he may have won, but that isn’t the Governor’s priorities:

    1. Stay out of jail. Past Illinois politicians have become very populist in an effort to soften the jury pool. The selection of Burris is very unpopular in Illinois.

    2. Avoid impeachment. The impeachment process sped back up when the legislators started taking heat for not acting quickly enough.

    3. Make money. Don’t see the opportunity here.

    If anything the appointment has hurt the Governor.

  2. PD Shaw says:

    Absent evidence that Burris was involved in shady dealings to get the seat — and none exists, so far as I’m aware

    As I understand the criminal complaint, the Governor wasn’t necessarily seeking to sell the Senate seat to the candidate, but sell it to whomever would support the candidate. It could be a corrupt appointment of which Burris is entirely innocent.

  3. Bithead says:

    After Dirty Harry said they’d never seat nyone Blago appointed, and Burris gets his seat, one wonders what’s going to happen with Coleman, since Harry made similar predictions about him. My guess is he’ll be going two for two shortly.

  4. carpeicthus says:

    Indeed, I also think Coleman will get the seat he is legally entitled to … his living room couch.

  5. caj says:

    Thank God, can we move on now?

  6. Barry says:

    IMHO, Reid figured that refusing to seat a legally-appointed appointee would set a bad precedent, particularly since the GOP was threatening to fillibuster the seating of another legally-elected Democratic Senator, Al Franken.

  7. Floyd says:

    “”that refusing to seat a qualified black man would be too difficult to sustain politically.””
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    So, you say racism is alive and well!
    MLK must be spinning in his grave!

  8. Bootlegger says:

    Anyone else want to invite Reid over for some poker?

  9. Drew says:

    “Now Harry, I really don’t appreciate…”

    “Awe, c’mon, Roland. I was jest funnin’ you. Just a little early April Fools joke. Of course we’ll seat-ya. No harm no foul??”

  10. markm says:

    Harry Reid a couple of days ago: “Nope, Burris will never be seated…he’s tainted”

    markm: “but it seems easier politcally to me to seat the geezer and let him get defeated in the next election.”

    Crazy what a couple days o’ circus can do.

  11. anjin-san says:

    Reid continues to be unimpressive. Perhaps he is exhausted by two years of bending over for Bush…