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Senate may give Burris OK

Durbin hopeful on a resolution

By Laurie Kellman
Associated Press / January 12, 2009
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WASHINGTON - The Senate's second-in-command, Senator Dick Durbin, said yesterday that he hopes a resolution will be reached soon to allow former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to be seated as Barack Obama's successor.

Burris said he and his lawyers will be in Washington today to begin paving the way for him to join the Senate. But Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said lawyers still need to sign off on Burris's paperwork and review his testimony before the Illinois House, which later impeached Governor Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges.

"I started off obviously skeptical, as all of the Democratic members did," Durbin said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "But as time has gone on and we've looked closely, we want to be fair to Roland Burris. If he has the proper certification and papers, then we're going to take one look at the process and move forward from there."

Some Senate Democrats have opposed Burris's appointment because of federal charges that Blagojevich tried to sell the seat to the highest bidder. Although they think the appointment is tainted, no one has accused Burris of wrongdoing.

Burris, who also appeared on CBS, said his appointment by Blagojevich is legal. On Friday, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that under state law, Burris's appointment paperwork is valid and that it's up to the Senate to decide whether to seat him.

But Durbin, Senate majority leader Harry Reid, and other Democrats have said that unless the appointment is signed by both the governor and the Illinois secretary of state, it violates Senate rules.

Durbin said Senate lawyers are reviewing a document received Friday night to see whether it complies. Democrats also want to review Burris's testimony before the impeachment panel, where the appointee said he promised Blagojevich nothing in exchange for the seat. Then, Reid said, the Senate would vote on whether to seat him.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, who would become governor if Blagojevich is removed, offered a plan yesterday for reforming Illinois government.

In an op-ed article in the Chicago Tribune, Quinn made five recommendations for cleaning up state government. They include better enforcement of ethics laws and ending automatic pay raises for high-level public officials without a vote.

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